Canning Basin in WA is being depleted too fast – NASA

Original story from www.news.com.au July 11, 2015

THE world is running out of water, with one state in Australia having their reserves depleted at an alarming rate.

According to a NASA-led study, more than half of the world’s large underground water sources were being drained at rates placing them at serious risk of drying up.

It found 21 out of the 37 basins were being depleted quicker than they were being replenished.

Among those identified was the Canning Basin in Western Australia’s northwest.

This precious natural resource was singled out as being used at the third-highest rate in the world, losing an estimated 9.4 millimetres per year.

The most-stressed underground water source is the Arabian Aquifer, in Saudi Arabia, followed by the Indus Basin in India and Pakistan.

The report did point out that the Great Artesian Basin, which occupies 1.7 million sq km beneath Queensland, NSW, SA and the Northern Territory, was among the world’s healthiest.

The peer-reviewed study, published in the journal Water Resources Research, blames the Canning Basin’s high depletion rate on the state’s water-intensive mining industry.

But the international scientific assessment has been rejected by the WA government which branded the study’s conclusions — that mining caused the decrease — as “incorrect”.

The WA Department of Water says its own “detailed and extensive” records dispute those findings, saying their own scientists consider the Canning Basin to be a “largely undeveloped water resource with potential to support future growth in the Pilbara and Kimberley”.

“Reports that the Canning Basin is being depleted through overuse by mining differ significantly from the scientific assessments of the Department of Water which manages and allocates water from this resource,” a spokeswoman told news.com.au.

“The department last year allocated 50GL/year of water for future use by towns, agriculture and mining from the west Canning Basin, and is considering a further 50GL/year of water to be allocated based on more recent assessment work.”

She said the Department of Water was in the midst of studying the Canning Basin using on-ground drilling and an airborne electromagnetic (AEM) survey that would cover tens of thousands of kilometres.

A climate assessment project led by the CSIRO was also being carried out to determine any climatic affects on Pilbara water supplies, she added.

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