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I POST-WAR WATER SUPPLIES. I
ADEPUTATION from the State Government recently toured
the country areas of Western Australia In order to: for- mulate à plan for alleviating the totally inadequate water« supplies iii the dry areas in the south-east of the State. Headed by the Minister fer Works (Mr Hawke), the official party remarked on the fortitude displayed by settlers and their families under dry conditions. The outline of the plan is given in the report which is briefly Indicated below.
The Minister said that every farmer in a position to do so was proceeding to increase water conservation on his own pro- perty, realising that water carting was a wasteful activity no matter how short the carting distance. Every Governmental and private agency associated with thé financing of farmers would be wise to help them in the work of extending the size of their existing dams and in the putt mg in of new ones: . also in the roofing of the dams where possible to prevent evaporation.
Owing to engineering difficulties these districts could not be included in the proposed agricultural areas comprehensive water scheme. The Public Works Department would therefore give spe- cial attention to taking all practicable steps to increase public water supplies in those districts. This could be done by improv- ing and extending catchment areas and increasing the size of ex- isting tanks and dams and also by putting in new ones. It Was probable the highest priority would be given to districts with- out railway facilities.
The public water supplies would be developed as emergency supplies for use in dry periods when settlers' own supplies were inadequate for their needs. He was convinced a solid co-opera- tive effort on the part of the Government, the local road boards and the farmers and those financing them would prevent a recur- rence of the unfortunate conditions now .prevailing, and was con- fident all concerned would co-operate fully and with as little de- lay as possible.
"It is anticipated there will be a revival of goldmining in the post-war period but it will be impossible for this to develop in the Kalgoorlie and Eastern Goldfields districts unless the supply from Mundaring can be augmented/' said Mr Hawke. "With the present demands from the industry and from other consumers en route, Mundaring reservoir and the pumping stations are al- ready overtaxed. The scheme provides for: (a) The raising of Mundaring reservoir by 32ft, m creasing the storage from 4,650,000,000 gallons to approximately 15,000,000,000 gallons, (b) The raising of Wellington Dam by approximately 50ft, increas- ing the storage from 7,500,000,000 gallons to approximately 38,000,000,000 gallons.
"It is proposed to carry out the scheme over a number of
years but to speed up the rate of construction according to the de- ' mand for employment in the early post-war years. Construction would be commenced first on the raising of Mundaring weir and the extension of a 30in steel-main from Wellington Dam to the existing reservoir at Narrogin, the length of this mam being ap- proximately 00 miles. Duplications of sections of the Goldfields Water Supply Mam would be progressively , carried out as the rais- ing of the Mundaring Weir proceeds. .
Commenting on the proposed comprehensive scheme, Mr Hawke said long experience had shown that small country water schemes in agricultural districts were costly to construct and do not give adequate service. A great amount of boring for under- ground water has been done tfjth Misappointing results owing to the preponderance of salt water. Many of the large granite rocks with which the wheatbelt areas were studded had been harnessed to storage dams; but light rainfall in recent years had lessened then*1 value. Earth catchments for storage reservoirs had yielded disappointingly small flows. The ramfall in the areas although sufficient for crop-growing, was too light and sporadic
to ¿ive good yields from the rock or earth catchment schemes now being used. f
The steady development of stock-raising in the wheat-produc- ing areas of the State in the past 15 years Had emphasised the inadequacies of existing water supplies in those districts. As the future development of the country in the mixed farming areas of the wheatbelt was linked wit h its. utilisation 'for stock-rais- ing, which was not only desirable but essential on most farms, and since security of water supply was vital to stock-raising, lt was imperative that early steps be taken to reinforce the ex- isting inadequate water supplies.
The present supplies were being reduced, and has already re- duced in some areas, the position of the residents (both town and farm) in the long, hot summer months to one of great difil culty, which was partly responsible for the "drift to the city."