Water Security for Southern Forests Horticulture Industry

Page last updated: Tuesday, 1 August 2023 - 8:15am

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

The WA Government is committed to the Manjimup-Pemberton community and agricultural businesses that are the backbone of its local economy and wishes to put in place the necessary infrastructure that protects the environment and the community.

The Southern Forests Irrigation Scheme (SFIS) was intended to address community concerns on climate change by harnessing limited water resources to tackle the challenges that climate change will bring about to our environment, business and community.

Latest update 

CSIRO report

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) commissioned CSIRO to undertake a review of the water modelling of the Donnelly River and associated sub-catchment area. CSIRO has provided the updated model. The report highlighted a number of concerns with the previous modelling, including that less water is likely to be available from the Donnelly River in the future. While the CSIRO focus has been on the future water availability for the SFIS, it also highlights that water will become scarcer for everyone, which means doing nothing is not an option. The Government is committed to maximum transparency and will incorporate community engagement and feedback in the steps ahead.

Future climate water supply estimates for the proposed Southern Forest Irrigation Scheme

Following CSIRO’s updated projections of stream flow in the Donnelly River, the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) has updated its water supply estimates for the proposed Southern Forests Irrigation Scheme. The report can be accessed on the right hand side of this page.

Southern Forests Irrigation Reference Group

The State Government understands the climate change challenges the horticulture industry in the Manjimup-Pemberton region faces and is committed to supporting the region. A Southern Forests Irrigation Reference Group was established to explore a broad package of climate change measures including new infrastructure, water efficiency improvements and water policy to help build water security and resilience to support our local farmers.

The Reference Group was chaired by Ian Longson, former Director General of the Department of Agriculture and Food. Expert advice was made available to support the group through briefings on technical, policy and engineering investigations. To find out more about the Reference Group please refer to the Terms of Reference.  

The report is now complete and the Government has now provided its response to the recommendations. The Reference Group report and its findings will be an important consideration in building the road map that seeks to provide greater water security for horticulture in the region.