Pilbara groundwater allocation plan

The Pilbara groundwater allocation plan guides how we manage groundwater resources and licensing across the Pilbara region, including Millstream and the West Canning Basin.

Plan release information

We have released the following allocation planning documents in the Pilbara:

The department developed the Pilbara groundwater allocation plan based on investigations undertaken from 2007–2010 with $3 million from the Australian Government's Water for the Future initiative.

The West Canning Basin allocation statement is based on findings from the $11 million West Canning Basin-Sandfire Royalties for Regions project.

The department also worked with stakeholders to make sure that their interests were taken into account. The plan complements the Pilbara regional water plan and Water in mining guideline as well as regional water supply planning.

Water allocation planning in the Pilbara

The Pilbara is Western Australia's most productive mining area. We prepared this plan to identify critical water supply options for coastal communities and to make sure that water supply planning in the region can continue. The plan also responds to the state government's Pilbara Cities vision.

The plan provides policies to regulate and manage water abstraction and the associated risks to groundwater quality, groundwater-dependent environment and other water users across the region, including for cultural reasons. These policies explain the department's position for existing and potential licensees and help to streamline the regulatory approvals process.

The West Canning Basin allocation statement replaces section 5.3 of the Pilbara groundwater allocation plan, providing updated resource objectives, management zones and local licensing policies for the West Canning Basin.

Plan area

The Pilbara groundwater plan area covers an area of 200,000 km2. It includes the coastal towns of Onslow, Karratha, Wickham, Roebourne and Port Hedland and extends inland to include Marble Bar, Wittenoom, Nullagine, Tom Price, Paraburdoo and Newman.

The plan mainly covers the Pilbara groundwater area, but also a small part of the Canning-Kimberley groundwater area to include the West Canning Basin.

Water resources

The groundwater resources in the Pilbara are mainly alluvial, sedimentary or fractured rock aquifers. Important existing or potential water sources for the coastal ports and towns identified on the map below include:

  • six coastal alluvial aquifers underlying the lower Cane, Robe, Fortescue, Yule, Turner and De Grey rivers
  • Millstream aquifer
  • Broome Sandstone and Wallal Sandstone sedimentary aquifers of the West Canning Basin.

For management purposes, the Pilbara plan area is divided into four subareas – the Ashburton and East Pilbara (Pilbara groundwater area) and the West Canning–Pardoo and West Canning (Canning–Kimberley groundwater area).

Pilbara groundwater allocation plan area
Target aquifers and water supply schemes covered by the Pilbara groundwater allocation plan

Publications

Pilbara groundwater allocation plan

Pilbara groundwater allocation plan: Statement of response

West Canning Basin allocation statement

Monitoring program to support the Pilbara groundwater allocation plan

Pilbara regional water plan 2010–2030

Lower De Grey and Yule groundwater allocation limits report

West Canning Basin groundwater allocation limit report

Lower Robe groundwater allocation limit report

Lower Turner groundwater allocation limit report

Lower Cane groundwater allocation limit report

Lower Fortescue groundwater allocation limit report

Millstream aquifer - determination of a long-term sustainable yield and reliable long-term allocation

Erosion at Millstream Chichester National Park

Ecological water requirements of the Yule River aquifer

Ecological water requirements of the lower Fortescue River aquifer

Page reviewed 25 January 2023