The Beacon River Catchment Salinity Management Project

The Beacon River Catchment Salinity Management Project initiated by the Mt Marshall Land Conservation District Committee (LCDC) in August 2000 is a whole-of-catchment approach to addressing the effects of rising groundwater and the threat of encroaching salinity in the Beacon River Catchment.

In recognition of the complexity of the project and possible implications for downstream land managers and the wider community generally, the Mt Marshall LCDC approached a number of government and private agencies and organizations with relevant expertise and invited them to assist with the project.

Gutteridge Haskins and Davey (GHD) Pty Ltd assisted in the Preliminary Project Proposal submission stage by helping to determine what processes of consultation, investigation and works needed to be undertaken, and with conceptual design work and budget estimates.

The Avon Working Group (now known as the Avon Catchment Council) recommended the proposal to the Western Australian State Salinity Council for consideration for funding.

In September 2000 the State Salinity Council offered the Mt Marshall LCDC $100,000 for a Feasibility Study to prove the methodology and to explore the economics of the proposal and make an assessment of offsite impacts of drainage and pumping. GHD developed the Supplementary Proposal for a Feasibility Study. GHD’s expertise was valuable in determining precisely what investigations were essential to the Feasibility Study and which could be completed within the $100,000 budget limit.

A “Reference Group” was formed to oversee and preserve the technical integrity of the project.

It was intended that the area to be considered within the study should begin at the headwaters of the Beacon River and extend to the southern boundary of the Mount Marshall Shire (and beyond, should a hydrological analysis determine that the effects of the proposed works were likely to be felt further downstream). [Subsequently, limited funds precluded any downstream investigations.]

Initially the study investigated any means whereby floodwaters which accumulate in Job's Lake might be safely discharged, in order that the rising groundwater problem affecting the catchment above Job's Lake be addressed, ensuring that whichever means adopted would not adversely impact upon any downstream landform or waterway in the long term.

Assuming the safe discharge of the accumulated floodwaters in Job's Lake proved feasible, the purpose of the study was to determine the best methodology for the development of the Beacon River Catchment Salinity Management Project as described in the Preliminary Project Proposal.

The feasibility study was to have regard for social, environmental and economic issues both on and off site, including assessment of the “do-nothing” option and its likely impact.

A budget and implementation plan for development of the project formed part of the Feasibility Study in the event that the project outcomes were deemed attainable. It was expected that the Study would be completed by mid-2001.