The McGowan Government has today released the independent CSIRO review of the water modelling that underpins the proposed Southern Forests Irrigation Scheme (SFIS).
The review was an election commitment, delivered by the McGowan Government through the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, in response to ongoing community concern about the project.
The review found that while the Donnelly River model was based on water modelling methodologies that were commonly used at the time, the scientific understanding of climate change and its impacts has since continued to evolve.
The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation is now in consultation with CSIRO and is reviewing the report, with a preliminary assessment of its implications to be provided in coming months.
The State Government has committed to working with the Southern Forests Irrigation Co-operative and the local community to assess the impact of reduced water availability on the future of the SFIS proposal.
The review is available at https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/donnelly-river-model-review
As stated by Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan:
“Climate change is having a major impact on WA’s south-west and, as the review notes, this makes water modelling extremely complex.
“This independent review provides an important path forward to determine the future viability of the proposed Southern Forests Irrigation Scheme.
“Clearly any significant reduction in the water available to the scheme will affect the scheme’s business case.
“Our ultimate aim is to deliver reliable water so the farmers can continue to feed our people, and we need to deliver a viable, credible project to do that.”
As stated by Water Minister Dave Kelly:
“While the model was simulating streamflows that incorporated the best available data at the time, modern climate science and how it is applied in catchment modelling is evolving.
“The department’s scientists are now reviewing the report in detail and are considering the findings and recommendations. These are very technical matters requiring thorough consideration.
“We will continue to work closely with the local community as we determine the next steps for the project.”