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A new 32,500 kilolitre capacity dam has been constructed through a funding partnership between the Western Australian Government and the Shire of Gnowangerup.

The Shire of Gnowangerup received $100,000 funding support from the Western Australia Government, in addition to the Shire’s contribution of $105,750.

The project involved the construction of a new dam with a connection to an existing tank also established, and with the construction of two new 250 kilolitre capacity tanks. 

WA Water Minister, Dave Kelly, said the increased storage and improvements will optimise the capture of water from the airstrip and provide a reliable water supply for firefighters and bomber planes to access.

“Like many communities in the state’s south, Gnowangerup has experienced reduced rainfall as a result of climate change, so this additional source will provide an important additional off-farm water source for local farmers into the future,” Mr Kelly said.

There was an existing 10,000 kilolitre dam that captured water off the runway and surrounding reserve, however, this was inaccessible and regularly overflowed. Connection between the two dams will now increase total capacity to 42,500 kilolitres.

The connection of this water supply to other dams will also allow the Shire to transfer water from one dam to another to optimise non-potable water storage for the community to access.

WA Agricultural Region MLC, Shelley Payne, said, “One of the biggest challenges we are facing today is to manage the impacts that climate change is having on our precious water supply and water infrastructure.

“There is no doubt many regional communities have been doing it tough, with many areas having experienced record-low rainfall and dwindling on-farm water supplies in recent years.”

The airstrip is regionally important and heavily relied upon during the fire season. During the Stirling Range fires and Katanning fires that occurred during the summer of 2020, fire trucks had to access water from the scheme and Gnowangerup town dam, which prolonged their turn around and response to the fires. These water improvements hope to address this issue in future.

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