Gnangara aquifer – water use crackdown!

The West –

Almost 200,000 homes with backyard bores face tougher rules on their use as water levels in the Gnangara aquifer system — Perth’s most important drinking water supply — hit new lows.

Citing declining rain, the Department of Water and Environment Regulation flagged “reductions over time across all water users” of the Gnangara system.

The changes are likely to cut entitlements for thousands of businesses but the department yesterday confirmed residential bore owners could be affected.

The metropolitan area has about 177,000 backyard bores, taking about 88 billion litres a year.

Residential bores are not licensed or metered, prompting the department to suggest it may have to resort to other ways of cutting their use.

This could include changes to sprinkler rosters which bans bore use during winter but allows them to be used three days a week for the rest of the year compared with only two days for scheme supplies.

Other measures included encouraging alternative supplies such as recycling.

Department director-general Mike Rowe said even though bores took pressure off the Water Corporation, reducing their effect on the Gnangara system was prudent.

“Our research shows us there is plenty of room for improvement in the way garden bores are used, and that generally domestic garden bore users use more water for the same type and area of garden than scheme water users,” Mr Rowe said.

A report by the department paints a bleak picture of the Gnangara system, where almost two-thirds of sites used to monitor its health are in breach of ministerial conditions.

Of the 30 monitoring sites, 18 had water levels below those deemed acceptable during 2015-16, an increase from 16 the previous year.

Mr Rowe told a Budget estimates hearing there was a need to “rebalance” the use of the Gnangara system, and a new allocation plan would involve across-the-board cuts.

“It will involve groundwater reductions over time across all water users, including water utilities, local government and other people who rely on groundwater, such as horticulturalists and others,” he said.

The West Australian link…

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Grape growers say it’s decision time

ECHO News – 

SWAN Valley planning needs to retain and support viticulture or to ditch the idea completely and allow natural planning processes to take place, according to Grape Growers Association of WA president Darryl Trease.

Mr Trease who has just been re-elected as president of the association for the 11th consecutive year said it was too expensive to buy more land in the Swan Valley just to grow grapes.

But growers needed more land to benefit from economies of scale.

The City of Swan councillor who is running in the local government elections next month said if the Swan Valley wanted to keep viticulture as a focus the minimum lot size needed to be set at 2ha.

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The Swan Valley like you’ve never seen it before

The full Swan Valley experience and all it has to offer is now available at your fingertips.

The City of Swan has launched its new website www.swanvalley.com.au and just like the Swan Valley, there is a lot to see and do.

The new website includes all of the information you need to know about the region and some fantastic new features.

You can now explore the Swan Valley before you visit by using the interactive map and geographic location. You can also plan your trip and itinerary with the easy to use trip planner or book tours and accommodation in advance with the integrated Bookeasy system. Or, if you are visiting the website on your smart phone, the site’s ‘Near Me’ geo-location feature will help you find nearby attractions.

City of Swan Mayor Mick Wainwright said the new website would further enhance the information sourcing experience for future visitors.

‘The website currently has more than 450,000 unique visits each year, so we have made sure the true Swan Valley experience starts as soon as your search does,” he said.

“Thanks to the mesmerising images and easy to use format you will be able to explore and visualise what there is to see and do, eat and drink or visit and stay in just minutes.”

Swan Valley/Gidgegannup Ward Councillor Darryl Trease said the new website was part of the City’s investment in the region and its status as a premier tourism destination.

“The City is committed to supporting and fostering Swan Valley’s place in the tourism market, not just locally but nationally and internationally and the new website is another fantastic tool to help us do this,” he said.

To see why millions visit the region each year, visit www.swanvalley.com.au and take a look around.
City of Swan link…

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Swan Valley review to shape region’s future

Media Statement –

  • ​John Kobelke to lead review of Swan Valley planning framework
  • Review presents an opportunity for the local community to have their voices heard

Planning Minister Rita Saffioti has appointed Hon John Kobelke to conduct a review of the Swan Valley planning framework, which incorporates the Swan Valley Protection Bill and associated development plan.

The review provides the Swan Valley community with an opportunity to contribute to the future development of the region, with views being sought on:

  • The role and responsibility of a statutory board for the Swan Valley;
  • Establishing a right to farm in the region;
  • Possible new tourism initiatives; and
  • The current limits to subdivision in the area.

Residents and landowners in the Swan Valley will be contacted to provide input into this process.

Comments attributed to Planning Minister Rita Saffioti:

“I am pleased to announce that John Kobelke has been appointed to lead the review of the Swan Valley planning framework.

“Mr Kobelke is an experienced former Minister who understands the need for genuine community engagement to develop a plan for the region.

“I have asked Mr Kobelke to examine the provisions in the draft Swan Valley Development Plan relating to subdivision, agriculture and tourism.

“I am also keen to ensure a strong advocate for the Swan Valley through a statutory board or committee.

“This review and consultation process will ensure that the people who call the Swan Valley home have a real say about the future of this highly valued region.”

Minister’s office – 6552 5500

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Posted in Swan Valley Planning Act (1995), Swan Valley Protection Bill 2016, Tourism, Viticulture/Horticulture | Leave a comment

Shake-up to change the face of councils

The West – 

Mayors and councillors could have salaries and allowances increased or slashed depending on their training and qualifications as part of changes being considered by WA Labor to shake up local government.

The idea comes as the State Government looks for ways to bring greater diversity to local government, with a report showing councils are dominated by “white, elderly males”.

The Government is also set to look again at the culture of gifts and “contributions” showered upon councillors, often from property developers and big business.

Local Government Minister David Templeman said councils needed to find new ways of attracting women, younger people and individuals of varied ethnicities to serve if they were to be truly representative of their communities.

He pointed to a study by researchers at the University of WA which found just 33 per cent of people elected to WA councils were women and 60 per cent of councillors were aged over 55.

“This census confirms that the white elderly male, or what some refer to as the ‘male, pale and stale’ stereotype prevails within the real world,” the UWA study concluded.

The report suggests councillors be required to undertake a minimum number of accredited training courses so they were aware of their duties and responsibilities.

“Minimum training is important,” Mr Templeman said.“You could link that of course to remuneration … you don’t get your top level maximum amount unless you have done your minimum requirement.”

As part of long-promised changes, the Government wants powers to sack councillors. Currently, it can only remove an entire council for poor performance.

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Wine industry receives boost for exports

skyNEWS –

The federal government will inject $50 million into the Australian wine industry to boost exports and attract more international visitors to wine producing regions.

The export and regional wine support package will provide money for marketing campaigns in the US and China in a bid to increase wine exports to $3.5 billion over the next three years, Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce says.

‘The target now is to go from $2.2 billion worth of wine to $3.5 billion by 2020,’ he said.

‘At home the package will help to attract up to 40,000 more international tourists to visit our word renowned wine regions.’

skyNEWS link…

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New auditing laws raise local government accountability standards

Media Statement:
  • Laws passed to extend Auditor General’s powers to local governments
  • Independent oversight to improve local government standards
  • New laws will increase community confidence in the sector

Auditing laws which raise the standards of accountability for local governments to a level more consistent with public sector departments and agencies have been passed in State Parliament.

Local Government Minister David Templeman welcomed the passage of the Local Government Auditing Bill 2017 through the Legislative Council.

The Bill will enable the Auditor General to audit council finances and performance and ensure that Western Australians benefit from local governments that are accountable, transparent and responsible.

Under the legislation, local governments will be required to publish their annual reports including audit reports on their websites, improving access to the financial position of individual councils for ratepayers.

A new category of audits that will examine the economy, efficiency and effectiveness of programs and organisations, including compliance with legislative provisions and internal policies, was also introduced under the new legislation.

The legislation follows recent Corruption and Crime Commission investigations into a number of local governments for allegations of serious misconduct and corruption.  It also responds to recommendations made by Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee.

Comments attributed to Local Government Minister David Templeman:

“The passage of this legislation is an example of the McGowan Labor Government’s commitment to restoring public confidence in the local government sector.

“The Auditor General is best placed to identify systemic financial issues in the sector, and can assist the sector in developing strategies to address these.

“WA communities will now be better able to benchmark their local government’s overall efficiency and effectiveness, as well as having access to a truly independent assessment of a local government’s performance and financial position.”

Minister’s office – 6552 5400

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Small WA winery Sittella celebrates huge haul of trophies

The West –

Small producer Sittella was the star of this year’s Singapore Airlines Swan Valley Wine Show with a haul of eight trophies including awards for the best wine of the show and best producer.

It was a remarkable achievement for the winery, which was established in 1998 and has risen to become one of the Swan Valley’s best and most consistent producers with wines that are sourced from the Swan Valley and Margaret River.

Sittella’s success was one of the most dominant performances at the show with trophies for sparkling, red, white and fortified wines.

The highlight was the blended white the Sittella Museum Release Silk 2009, which won three trophies including the Singapore Airlines Premium Trophy for Best Table Wine of Show. Sittella was also awarded The West Australian Media Award Trophy for the Most Successful Producer.

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Seasonal work incentives offer fresh approach for Pearce

The Liberal Government’s Seasonal Work Incentives Trial offers a range of incentives for unemployed people to undertake seasonal horticultural work to help them gain experience and improve their skills.

Federal Member for Pearce, Christian Porter, said the trial will support those looking for work and businesses keen to give workers a start.

“This is a win-win for local workers and growers in the horticultural industry as they often are in need of short-term labour during peak times,” Mr Porter said.

“Horticultural work offers excellent practical opportunities for people keen to build their skills and gain work experience.

“I am excited by the opportunities this Trial presents for both the local horticultural industry and people seeking work.”

The Seasonal Work Incentives Trial offers financial incentives to support unemployed people to take up work opportunities for up to six weeks. The $27.5 million trial will commenced 1 July 2017 for two years and is capped at 7,600 participants.

The trial’s incentives are available to eligible Newstart and Youth Allowance (Other) recipients who have been receiving those payments continuously for at least three months and are participating in jobactive, Transition to Work or Disability Employment Services.

The incentives include:

• Participants being able to earn up to $5,000 each year from qualifying seasonal horticultural work without it being assessed under the social security income test.
• Eligibility for a Seasonal Work Living Away and Travel Allowance of up to $300 each year, if they undertake qualifying seasonal horticultural work more than 120 kilometres from their home.
• Employment service providers will receive a Provider Seasonal Work Incentive Payment of $100 per week for up to six weeks a year for each eligible person that they place with eligible farmers.

For further information about the trial, please visit www.employment.gov.au

Media Contact: Ella Cahill – ella.cahill@aph.gov.au or 6296 7255

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Farmgate grape prices up 7 per cent

SkyNEWS –

Australian wine growers are toasting a healthy jump in the money they are paid for their grapes.

The average farmgate price paid to grape growers increased seven per cent to $565 a tonne in the past year, while the amount of grapes crushed to make wine rose five per cent to 1.9 million tonnes, new figures from Wine Australia show.

“The increases reflect excellent seasonal conditions in many regions as well as the growing demand for Australian wine, both in export and domestic markets,” Wine Australia chief executive Andreas Clark said on Wednesday.

SkyNEWS link…

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From today Ellenbrook Police Station is open 24/7

twitter –

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New Housing Authority project for Brabham (old Caversham Airfield)

ECHO NEWS – 

THE McGowan Government has selected Peet Limited as the preferred proponent to partner with the Housing Authority in developing a 220ha site at Lot 800 Youle-Dean Rd, Brabham.

Housing Minister Peter Tinley said the Brabham project, 22km from the city centre, would be a major transit-oriented development linking the Swan Valley to Perth.

Mr Tinley said the Brabham development expected to provide for schools, neighbourhood shops, recreational areas and more than 3000 dwellings was part of the McGowan Government’s Metronet transport project.

“This is a significant boost to the stock of affordable housing and aligns to the government’s plans for Metronet, with plans for a station at Whiteman Park by 2022,’’ he said.

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Draft Ellenbrook Local Area Plan

The City of Swan values your comments and feedback to help form the Ellenbrook Local Area Plan.

Following on from the Community consultation workshops held in November 2016, the City invites you to comment on the draft Ellenbrook Local Area Plan to contribute to the strategies and actions planned in your local area.

Comments received will be considered for inclusion in the final draft document and presented to Council for their endorsement.

Hard copies of the plan will be available at the Ellenbrook Library and the City’s Administration Centre.

The draft plan will be available for comment for four weeks from July 10, 2017 with submissions closing on August 7, 2017.

If you wish to comment, please use the online form or address comments to Sam Gebremaskel at LocalAreaPlanning@swan.wa.gov.au or PO Box 196, MIDLAND, WA 6936.

City of Swan link…

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City of Swan reduces rates increase for 2017/18

The City of Swan Council resolved to implement a lower rates increase than first proposed when it adopted the 2017/18 Budget on Wednesday evening.

City of Swan Mayor Mick Wainwright said Council had listened to the concerns of ratepayers, and had found budget savings to enable the initial proposal of a 3% rate increase to be reduced to 2.5%.

“Before we set our rates, we take into consideration economic conditions and the needs of our community,” he said.

“This allows us to create a practical budget, keeping rates rises to a minimum while still being able to provide the services and facilities needed for our rapidly growing community.

“Considering the growth and the increased needs of our community, this year’s budget includes a rate increase of an average of 2.5 per cent with no increase to minimums.

“Using the Rating and Budget Methodology adopted by Council, the total rates revenue per differential rate type was calculated on the proposed 2.5 per cent increase to the 2016/17 rate in the dollar. 

“The State Government’s decision to not implement the withdrawal of stamp duty and license fee concessions on Local Government vehicles, along with other additional savings, will allow the City to continue to deliver essential infrastructure, services and programs at the lowest possible cost to our ratepayers.”

Mayor Wainwright said the City’s budget was focused on boosting infrastructure, creating community hubs and providing quality services.

“In 2017/18, more than $135 million has been set aside for essential services and $104.6 million is budgeted for capital works projects across the City,” he said.

“This includes an investment of $20.4 million into building construction and works around our City, $11.1 million towards our parks and reserves, and $42.5 million on road reserve infrastructure.”

City of Swan link…

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Jobs boost as construction begins on new water tank in Ellenbrook

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

  • ​Work begins in Ellenbrook on biggest tank ever to be built by the Water Corporation
  • The new tank will cater for growth in the north-east metropolitan corridor

More than 200 Western Australians will be employed to fabricate and construct a new 80 million litre water tank in Ellenbrook.

The $44 million project will cater for growth in the popular north-east metropolitan corridor and provide a more consistent water pressure for Ellenbrook residents.

Work on the tank, which is located north of Gnangara Road near the Hanson sand quarry, began recently and is expected to be completed in early 2018.

The Water Corporation plans to build three tanks at the site over the next 40 years, which will be built in stages as the population grows.

About six kilometres of water main will also be constructed to connect the tank to the Integrated Water Supply Scheme.

For more information, visit https://www.watercorporation.com.au/ellenbrooktank

Comments attributed to Water Minister Dave Kelly:

“This important project will improve the water supply to Ellenbrook and the rapidly growing north-east metropolitan corridor.

“The new tank will also provide a more consistent water pressure to Ellenbrook, with water to gravity feed down to households and businesses.

“It is great to see the Water Corporation using the expertise of local contractors throughout the fabrication and construction of the tank.  More than 200 Western Australian workers will be involved in the project.

“The tank will be fabricated as 80 precast concrete panels in Hazlemere, before being transported to site and assembled.

“When completed, the tank will be an impressive 91 metres in diameter and 13 metres high, holding enough water to fill more than 35 Olympic-sized swimming pools.”

Minister’s office – 6552 6100

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Agile, smart, inclusive. Review to transform WA local government

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

  • Election commitment honoured with commencement of Local Government Act review
  • Review to reduce red tape, modernise local governments and deliver for communities
  • Election participation, online reporting and gift disclosures first to be targeted

A major review of Western Australia’s outdated Local Government Act is under way, with community participation in elections, online reporting and gift disclosures first to be targeted.

The shake up of the Local Government Act 1995 is a McGowan Government election commitment, which will modernise local government operations and identify ways to reduce red tape.

Local governments, residents, business people and workers will be invited to participate when a discussion paper is released by the State Government later this year.

A second phase of the review, set to take place next year, will look at increasing community participation in local government decision-making, improving behaviour and relationships, enabling local government enterprises and improving financial management.

The review will be supported by a reference group with representation from the Western Australian Local Government Association, Local Government Professionals Australia WA, Western Australian Electoral Commission, Western Australian Council of Social Service and Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Comments attributed to Local Government Minister David Templeman:

“The 1995 Act provides for the system of local government in Western Australia, but it has not kept up with changes in technology or, more importantly, with community expectations.

“WA communities expect their local governments to be both efficient and effective, and strengthen and support local democracy.  This review, which is the first major review since the Act was introduced more than 20 years ago, will make local government more agile, smart and inclusive.

“It will provide a contemporary legislative framework to enable local governments to deliver quality services and good governance for all of WA’s communities.”

Minister’s office – 6552 5400

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Initial test results back from Whiteman Park water

Friday, 16 June 2017

  • ​First results back from water testing at Whiteman Park show no contamination in water supply system
  • Taps being examined as potential source of contamination
  • All public water outlets to remain closed until taps are replaced and further testing undertaken

Initial water test results taken from Whiteman Park have indicated there is no elevated lead contamination in the water distribution system at the park.

The Department of Planning started testing water outlets in Whiteman Park following recent media reports of elevated lead levels.

While testing indicated the water supply is clear, elevated levels of lead were found in three water outlets, indicating that the contamination may lie within the taps.

Representatives from the Building Commission have been on site to undertake an assessment of the affected water outlets.

Under methodology advice from the Department of Health, samples were taken from seven outlets and provided to an accredited laboratory for testing and analysis.

These included the Whiteman Park public drinking water outlets that showed elevated lead levels in the media report (with the exception of the Motor Museum garden tap).

Using Australian Standards methodology, two samples were taken from three outlets; a ‘first flush’ sample which tests water within the tap assembly; and a second sample, taken after running off eight litres of water, which tests for contamination within the distribution system.

An eight litre flush sample was taken from four outlets including the water supply bore and the pump house.

All of the samples taken after the eight litre flush had no elevated lead levels, as determined by the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.

The three ‘first flush’ samples indicated elevated lead levels. However, these same taps returned lead levels below the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines following the eight litre flush. This indicates that the contamination may be within the tap assembly.

Comments attributed to Planning Minister Rita Saffioti:

“We take water quality very seriously and acted immediately to respond to reports of contamination in the Whiteman Park fountains.

“We will continue testing and will monitor the situation very closely.”

Minister’s office – 6552 5500

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