The WA Government has announced that the drilling program for its landmark Gascoyne Food Bowl initiative designed to boost water supplies and expand horticultural production in the Carnarvon area is set to begin.
The project, announced last month will be led by the Department of Agriculture and Food and funded through the State Government’s Royalties for Region initiative. The program is expected to significantly expand horticultural production in the Carnarvon area, through opening up approximately 400 hectares of land.
Agriculture and Food Minister Ken Baston last week announced contracts for drilling had been awarded to Austral Drilling Services and contracts for bore development had gone to Advanced Bore Services.
“This marks a significant step forward in sourcing and delivering additional water suitable for horticultural production as part of the State Government’s Gascoyne Food Bowl initiative,” he said.
“The results of this drilling program should determine the capacity for future development of the Gascoyne horticultural industry using the alluvial aquifer.”
The initial exploratory, production and flow testing is scheduled to begin later this month with around 20 exploratory holes drilled that should produce an estimated five new production bores by summer 2014. The program follows an airborne electromagnetic survey carried out in 2013 to enable more targeted drilling of water.
Water Minister Mia Davies said the Department of Water would undertake the hydrogeological modelling required to allocate and license the water as part of its contribution to the important project.
“The department’s groundwater expertise will be used to determine the exact quantity of the water able to be used once the drilling program has concluded, and I look forward to seeing the results,” Ms Davies said.
Regional Development Minister Terry Redman said the target was a substantial increase in water supplies to support additional horticultural production.
“The Carnarvon irrigation area is a high-value and efficient producer of fruit and vegetables for this State,” Mr Redman said.
“The program is aiming to find four gigalitres per annum, in addition to the 12 gigalitres currently available. The project will also identify, develop and release about 400 hectares of additional land for horticultural purposes.”