Bureau Home » Water Information » National Water Account » 2016 Account » Perth » Region description » Water management

National Water Account 2016

Perth: Water management

Water management areas exist for surface water and groundwater resources across the Perth region. These management areas were proclaimed under the Rights in Water and Irrigation Act 1914. The Department of Water has prepared a number of water allocation plans that define how water is shared between the various needs in these management areas.

Surface water and groundwater management

Water legislation

The Western Australian Rights in Water and Irrigation Act 1914 establishes the legislative framework for managing and allocating water resources in Western Australia. Under the Act, the right to the use, flow, and control of the water in watercourses, wetlands, and underground water sources is vested in the Crown.

The Western Australian Department of Water assists the Minister with the water resource management powers and functions set out in the Act, including the power to:

  • proclaim water management areas across the State for surface water and groundwater
  • regulate the abstraction of water from prescribed water management areas, including through the issuing of licences and the announcements of restrictions on licence use.

There are 15 groundwater management areas that were proclaimed by the Department of Water in the Perth region (Figure R10). All lie on the coastal plain (between the coast and the Darling escarpment).

Figure R10 Groundwater management areas within the Perth region
Figure R10 Groundwater management areas within the Perth region


Surface water management areas proclaimed by the Department of Water in the Perth region are shown in Figure R2 in the 'Geographic information'.


Water management plans

The Department of Water prepares water allocation plans to specify how water resources are to be shared between competing needs in particular areas. Water allocation plans define the water available for use from a particular water resource. Each plan also recognises its area's environmental values and ensures that sufficient water is retained in the resources to protect water-dependent ecosystems and meet specific social needs.

Water allocation plans in place within the Perth region include:

All current allocation plans for the Perth region and supporting information can be accessed at the Department of Water website.


Environmental water management

Environmental water legislation

The Environmental Water Provisions Policy for Western Australia guides the Department of Water in planning and decision-making in relation to allocating water to the environment. The policy describes the role of environmental water regime requirements and environmental water provisions in setting the sustainable diversion limit of a water resource.


Environmental water provisions

Environmental water provisions are specified in water allocation plans. In surface water management plans, these provisions are expressed as a water regime requirement, that is, a minimum flow regime that is to be achieved at key gauging station locations within the management area. Responsibility for achieving these flow regimes is placed on the storage operator and is defined in the licence conditions as part of operating strategies. The Department of Water monitors flows at each of these key gauging stations to ensure minimum flow regimes are maintained.

In groundwater allocation plans, environmental water provisions are expressed as minimum groundwater levels within the management area. These minimum levels are maintained for the purposes of protecting key ecological values associated with the groundwater-dependent ecosystems. These provisions, which were first identified in the mid-1980s for the Gnangara water table aquifer and in the early 1990s for the Jandakot water table aquifer, are now ministerial guidelines under the Western Australian Environmental Protection Act 1986.

When environmental monitoring indicates there is a threat to the ecological health of a groundwater-dependent ecosystem, remedial action can be taken by the Department of Water, in conjunction with other organisations, for the best management of the ecosystem.

Further information regarding environmental water provisions for the 2015–16 year is provided in the Environmental benefit note in 'Supporting information'.


Cultural water management

The waterways and groundwater systems within the Perth region are important to cultural beliefs of the Nyungar people. Allocation plans do not quantitatively define water regimes required to support the cultural and social values of the rivers and groundwater-dependent features in the region; however, the cultural values are considered through environmental water provisions (see Environmental water management).


Organisations responsible for water management

The organisations responsible for water supply and management in the Perth region are listed in Table R1.


Table R1 Water utilities and other organisations in the Perth region



Department of Water

  • water resource planning
  • managing and allocating water resources
  • managing water use
  • policy advice to government

Harvey Water

  • irrigation water supply

Water Corporation

  • infrastructure operator
  • urban water supply
  • wastewater services
  • operate all major surface water storages