WATER Print E-mail
Submitted on 10/02/2010
Irresponsible or Poor Government Planning
The priority 1 (P1) public drinking water source area of the Gnangara Mound is a valuable and relatively cheap source of high quality drinking water for Perth. Many residents regard setting a precedent of siting industry on a P1 water area and potentially jeopardising this asset as poor planning and economically irresponsible.

Planning that does not take into account environmental concerns will create problems for the future. An example is the Neerabup Industrial Park. Residents have been informed there are some constraints to its development due to the environmental issues. If these issues had been assessed and addressed in the early stages of planning, these problems would have been avoided. Now residents are being informed that due to these constraints another large industrial estate is required, four to five times the amount of land that they claim to have lost due to poor planning of the Neerabup Industrial Park.

The placement of this proposed industrial site is also proposed in the government's draft EWSP document. In the EWSP it states, under 3.2.2. Ecological Systems: “Protect the Gnangara Mound by supporting appropriate land use and development that minimises water use, maximises recharge and avoids groundwater contamination”. The EWSP document would seem to promote poor planning because it contradicts its own stated aim.

Placing industry on the mound will in fact not support appropriate land use and development, because water use will not be minimised; water will be directly drawn drawn from the very area of the mound that they say water usage must be restricted. Industrial development on the South Pinjar site will also pose a real risk of the contamination to that very groundwater. Anyone reading the document and seeing these contradictions would conclude that this is another example of poor planning.

To illustrate the danger to the water quality of the Gnangara Mound through placing general industry on this area, click on this link to watch what happened in Queensland just a few years ago. News clip from Channel 10 news (Binary Fire Video 3).

Video 3 - Footage of EPA report August 2006 on the Binary Industries chemical plant fire, Narangba Queensland.

In 2001 the Gnangara Land Use and Water Management Strategy Final Report stated concerns for the Gnangara Water Mound. The consequence was that a number of residents had rural land resumed by government because their land fell within the P1 area. The land was resumed in order to maintain the purity of the water. In that document it states that light, general or heavy industry and power stations are incompatible on a Priority 1 and 2 Public Drinking Water Resource area. It seems that this scientifically determined boundary was absolute for residents - who incurred personal upheaval and financial burdens, but is now, just eight years later, flexible for industry. These types of actions are the result of poor planning and are socially unjust.

The government was prudent enough at that time to realise the potential danger of planning the wrong type of development within the P1 water boundary of the Gnangara Mound. The same risk of pollution through inappropriate land use still exists. Changing the P1 Water boundary to accommodate industrial development doesn't stop the risk of groundwater contamination - it heightens it! What has changed is the mind set of government in their attitude towards the environment. They seem to be now, more than ever, “talking the talk” about environmental concerns in their documents, but not “walking the walk”.

Placing industry within the priority one public drinking water resource area (P1) also sets a bad legal precedent. If the boundary lines of a P1 area can be changed in order to accommodate industry, then surely a case for more industry to placed on P1 areas can legitimately be made. Demands will then be made by other sections of the community for changes to be made to the P1 water areas of the Gnangara Mound on the basis that their proposed land use would be less polluting than industry.

Of course some people will say “Don't worry, the WA Environmental Protection Authority will look after everything,” but has it the will or ability to do so?

Read what the Mayor of Wanneroo, John Kelly, on the ABC Stateline program, had to say about the WA Department of Environment in relation to an environmental incident involving acid sulphate soils.

“My view is that the Department of Environment is without question the worst department that has existed anywhere ever”.

“Ultimately one of the options available to us is to take out a writ in the Supreme Court to ensure that the Department of Environment does its job”.

John Kelly – Mayor of Wanneroo
Click on link to view the transcript of this program

Why the land upon which the proposed South Pinjar Industrial site should keep its P1 status:

Good sources of drinking water are becoming an ever more scarce and valuable resource. Lack of foresight in planning today will create problems that will be costly economically and socially, or perhaps impossible to rectify tomorrow.

Assets such as the Priority 1 Public Drinking Water Resource area (P1) of Perth are under the stewardship of Government but owned by the people of Perth. Are our stewards managing these assets for the good of the Perth community or are they risking its quality, and allocating inappropriate usage?

The drinking water of Perth is an important asset for the people of Perth, and the P1 water pumped out of the P1 area is high quality drinking water. This proposed huge industrial estate will not only pollute the water beneath it but will also draw water from the part of the Gnangara mound that holds this high quality water, a point conceded by government. Is this good management of this public resource given we are facing climate change and a growing population? Maybe government should look at the United States where, for example, there are problems in relation to good quality drinking water.

Problems with Water Quality in the United States

In a program by the ABC, the World Today states that “Efforts to improve water quality testing in the United States have revealed a cocktail of pharmaceuticals tainting the drinking water supplies of more than 40 million people. Included in the mix are antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilisers and sex hormones”.

“Recent laboratory research has also found that small amounts of medication have affected human embryonic kidney cells, human blood cells, and human breast cancer cells. The cancer cells proliferated too quickly; the kidney cells grew too slowly; and the blood cells showed biological activity associated with inflammation”. .

click on link to view for yourself-

Water Act


The act for changing the the P1 boundary states, controlled area means, a public drinking water resource area:


11 . Declaration of controlled areas

(1) The Governor may by order published in the Government Gazette

(a) constitute an area as a controlled area;

(b) add an area to, or excise an area from, a controlled area; or

(c) cancel the status of an area as a controlled area.

(2) An order is not to be made under subsection (1) excising an area from a controlled area or cancelling the status of an area as a controlled area unless the Governor is satisfied that water services provided in the area in question will not, after the excision or cancellation, be of a lower standard than those provided in that area before the excision or cancellation.

In the State Government's Industrial Land Strategy document they say

Industries that manufacture and store toxic, polluting substances WILL BE ALLOWED to operate on this site, provided the amount they store and manufacture is not deemed “a significant quantity” (what amount quantifies significant?). - CREW. The government’s exact words on this (government speak page 29) “No hazardous or offensive industries will be permitted, industries that manufacture, use or store significant quantities of toxic or polluting substances will not be allowed within the development”.

Risk of groundwater pollution and the adverse impact upon the water table by industry WILL be permitted provided the risk is not deemed significant (remember this industrial site will sit on a Priority 1 Public Drinking Water Supply Area, there have many environmental catastrophes over the years caused by activities that were not considered a significant environmental risk ) - CREW. The government’s exact words on this (government speak page 29) “to protect the groundwater resource of the Gnangara area, industrial development will be of a nature that does not pose significant risk of pollution or adverse impacts to the groundwater table’.

How could the “Governor” that is mentioned in the Act, in all conscience change the P1 boundary when the Government's own ILS document states the above.

In the Gnangara Land Use and Water Management Strategy 2001 it states:
  1. What is compatible and not compatible land usage for the P!, P2 and P3 water areas on the Gnangara Mound “Land use compatibility tables Page 71”

  2. What was then proposed for the land upon which the South Pinjar Industrial Estate is now planned, “Gnangara Park Page 26”

  3. An overview of the P1, P2 and P3 drinking resource areas “Appendix 4 Page 69”
Click on this link to download the document:
It states in Appendix 4 Page 39” the following:


The Water and Rivers Commission is responsible for managing and protecting Western Australia’s water resources. The Commission has developed policies for the protection of public drinking water source areas which are based on three levels of priority classification.

Priority 1 (P1) source protection areas are defined to ensure that there is no degradation of the water source. P1 areas are declared over land where the provision of the highest quality public drinking water is the prime beneficial land use. P1 areas would typically include land under Crown ownership. P1 areas are managed in accordance with the principle of risk avoidance and so land development is generally not permitted.

Priority 2 (P2) source protection areas are defined to ensure that there is no increased risk of pollution to the water source. P2 areas are declared over land where low-intensity development (such as rural) already exists. Protection of public water supply sources is a high priority in these areas. P2 areas are managed in accordance with the principle of risk minimisation and so some development is allowed under specific guidelines.

Priority 3 (P3) source protection areas are defined to minimise the risk of pollution to the water source. P3 areas are declared over land where water supply sources need to co-exist with other land uses such as residential, commercial and light industrial developments. Protection of P3 areas is achieved through management guidelines rather than restrictions on land use. If the water source does become contaminated, then water may need to be treated or an alternative water source found.

Lack of Government Foresight

The government has told CREW that they intend to change the P1 zoning for the land on which the South Pinjar Industrial Estate is to be located to a P3 classification. In the above paragraph it states that if the water in a P3 area does become contaminated then water may need to be treated or an alternative water source found.

They also still plan to put general industry on this site which is inappropriate, according to the government's own guidelines.

So let us now consider what the government plans, along with its contingency measures in case things go wrong:
  • • Change the boundary of a P1 drinking resource area to a P3 and then go against their own guidelines for development in a P3 classified zone by placing general industry upon it (according to government guidelines general industry should not be placed in a P3 water zone).
  • • If things then go wrong and the groundwater becomes polluted in the proposed South Pinjar Industrial site, then according to the above guidelines in relation to the pollution of a P3 area, the government would need to fix the problem or find alternative sources of drinking water for Perth to compensate for that which was polluted. Given that industrial accidents do happen (for example the 2009 Montara oil rig disaster in East Timor Sea), is it wise to set such a precedent with the South Pinjar site and leave the Gnangara Mound vulnerable to industrial accidents? The toxic plumes in the water table from the Bellevue industrial fire of 2001are still in the aquifers beneath and doing damage.

Some may be thinking that it makes more economic sense to develop land on P1 water areas of the Gnangara Mound because their boundaries cover a large area of usable land. Some people may think that if things go wrong and the water becomes polluted, they can just replace Perth's dependency on Gnangara Mound water with power hungry desalination plants.

According to scientist Tim Flannery, 20% of all the water consumed in Australia is used by coal fired electricity plants (ABC 7:30 report. This particular program was the last in a series on government planning to meet the needs of Australia's growing population).

Click on link to view video of this program 30meg video: http://www.abc.net.au/reslib/201001/r505593_2698812.asx

Click on link to view the transcript of this program: http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2010/s2805432.htm

Placing industry near the coast where there is access to cheap recycled water makes much more sense than using precious drinking water from the Gnangara Mound or electricity to pump water inland from power consuming de-salination plants to supply industry - CREW

Good Planning is Needed

As with most coastal cities Perth's waste water follows gravity through pipes to the coast, most of it flows straight out to the sea and is wasted. The cost of pumping treated waste water back inland to the likes of the proposed South Pinjar Industrial site would make the cost of this water prohibitively expensive for industry and that is why industry will have to draw water from the Gnangara Mound. Given this situation and what is happening in the United States with polluted drinking water, wouldn't it make more economic sense to locate industry closer to the coast so that it becomes economically viable to use treated waste water for industrial purposes?

A long term sustainable plan would have had industry planned near the coast (amidst the land now zoned urban at Alkimos) with access to affordable recycled water and where recharge to stop salt water incursion could have provided protection for the Perth’s freshwater resource.


Environmental Quote

"Let every individual and institution now think and act as a responsible trustee of Earth, seeking choices in ecology, economics and ethics that will provide a sustainable future, eliminate pollution, poverty and violence, awaken the wonder of life and foster peaceful progress in the human adventure."

— John McConnell, founder of International Earth Day

Social Quote

... the 20th century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: The growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy.

Australian social scientist, quoted by Noam Chomsky in World Orders Old and New

This is how change happens

We need your support and input to make changes in our community. Our vision is to create a place where everyday people can be heard and have the power to make choices. We are not only the custodians of our homes, but also our communities.

The CREW team, Banksia Grove, Mariginiup, Carramar, Tapping and surrounding suburbs
Copyright wanCREW 2013 © Perth Website Design by Webthread