Narembeen community closer to deep drainage solution

12 September 2007












The Narembeen community are another step closer to resolving issues associated with disposal and management of deep drainage water after more information was provided by the Avon Catchment Council at a recent Stakeholder Reference Group (SRG) meeting in Bruce Rock. Hendy Cowan, Chair of the SRG commented at the meeting that “decisions made by the group on how to appropriately dispose of drainage water and provide governance for deep drain networks will potentially have wide-reaching benefits for the Wheatbelt community.” The Narembeen Drainage Project was initiated as a result of community concern about how deep drainage water entering Wakeman Creek was impacting upon vegetation within Seagroatt Nature Reserve. The cause of degradation was identified as a network of deep drains extending east of Narembeen, which intercept groundwater to alleviate the impacts of dryland salinity on agricultural land. In 2005, GHD Consultants completed a report into ten engineering options to minimize the environmental impacts on Seagroatt Nature Reserve by managing the estimated peak discharge of four megalitres / day (one megalitre = one million litres) produced by the drainage network. Peter Sullivan, CEO of the Avon Catchment Council said “a major finding of the GHD report was that creating a governance framework to manage and maintain the drain was required prior to a preferred engineering option being chosen.” The Avon Catchment Council and Department of Environment and Conservation subsequently jointly funded URS consultants to develop the framework. The search for an appropriate disposal option for the drainage water continued with a report recently produced by Sinclair Knight Merz Consultants highlighting the potential benefits and costs for four identified disposal options. The options investigated included: deep drainage through Seagroatt Nature Reserve (NR) to Shackleton Lakes with direct outfall; deep drainage through Seagroatt NR to Shackleton Lakes with water treatment; disposal upstream of Seagroatt NR with water treatment; and disposal upstream of Seagroatt NR in an evaporative area. The SRG, representing community and government stakeholders were strongly in favour of ensuring that problems associated with the drainage water were not simply transferred to downstream landholders. Upon reaching this consensus the group decided that options to treat and manage the drainage water within the catchment provided a socially responsible and environmentally acceptable solution. Peter Sullivan is confident that the process led by the Avon Catchment Council will provide a resolution. “We are in no doubt that providing community with the knowledge and capacity to resolve the problem themselves leads to ownership of the issues and long-term certainty about the rights and responsibilities associated with deep drainage.” Contact: Daniel Ferguson Project Delivery Manager Ph: (08) 9690 2250