The water supply of the West Pilbara region of WA has been connected to a major new water source.
WA Premier and State Development Minister Colin Barnett and Water Minister Mia Davies visited Rio Tinto’s Cape Lambert operations for the commissioning of the Bungaroo Valley Water project, which will supply water to Rio Tinto’s coastal operations and surrounding communities.
The original water scheme for the West Pilbara was built in the 1960s by mining companies Hamersley Iron and Robe River under agreements with the State Government, using the Millstream aquifer as the water source. The water scheme (Millstream Agreement) was handed to the State to operate in 1976.
“Under the Millstream agreement, both iron ore projects were entitled to draw significant quantities of water for their operations from the Millstream aquifer. But as the population of the West Pilbara has grown, so has demand on the region’s water supply,” the Premier said.
“The new water supply provided by Bungaroo has enabled Rio Tinto to relinquish its water entitlements from Millstream, freeing up significantly more water for Karratha and surrounding communities.
“This is a great example of the State Government working with industry to deliver benefits to regional communities.”
Ms Davies said the investment by Rio Tinto meant an extra 10 billion litres of water a year – equal to 4,444 Olympic-sized swimming pools – would be available for the future development of Karratha, Roebourne, Wickham and Point Samson.
“Securing these water supplies is a significant milestone in the State Government’s vision for Pilbara Cities,” she said.
Ms Davies said the project had also alleviated the need for the State Government to build and maintain a new desalination plant to cope with the pressure on supply, which resulted in significant savings for taxpayers.