The Kimberley–Perth Canal is a proposal to channel water from the Fitzroy River in the Kimberley region of Western Australia via the Pilbara, to the southwestern capital of Perth, a distance of approximately 3,700 kilometres (2,299 mi).
The canal proposal was presented as part of Colin Barnett's unsuccessful 2005 state election campaign. As opposition leader, he ruled it out when campaigning for the 2008 election. In 2012, following Perth's driest July on record, Premier Barnett raised the proposal again, saying that "from a technical or engineering point of view, it's not difficult to do".
The Fitzroy River, with its catchments fed by variable tropical rainfall, is reported to deliver 9,200 gigalitres of mean annual flow, and at peak floods is stated as being "probably the largest river in Australia" when it has been reported to discharge up to 30,000 cubic metres per second into King Sound and the Indian Ocean.
To prevent damage to the river, the surrounding environment and fish, surplus wet-season flood flow would be pumped from the river 60 kilometres (37 mi) inland from the coast and transported by canal, avoiding interference with the eco-sensitive flood plain, then stored by aquifer recharge in and re-gathered from the La Grange Aquifer – a 280 kilometres (170 mi) long natural underground lake – to provide a variable wet-season buffer supply.
Environmental groups generally consider Kimberley water should not be developed at all, and the World Wildlife Fund cited a 1993 WA Government report stating that aquifers in the Fitzroy River had volumes of not much more than 200 gigalitres (260,000,000 cu yd) and that the pipeline or canal requirements would cause serious environmental damage.
Previous cost estimates
- Ernie Bridge - $3 billion
- Rebecca Keating (24 February 2006). "Kimberley Water Source Project: Pipelines and canals". ABC News. Retrieved 7 August 2012.
- Kimberley Pipeline Environmental Advisory Committee (1990). "Report of the Kimberley Pipeline Environmental Advisory Committee to the Hon. Ernie Bridge, JP, MLAS, Minister for Agriculture, Water Resources, North-West". Perth, KPEAC.
- "Canal company yet to assess environmental issues". ABC News. 8 February 2006. Retrieved 7 August 2012.
- "Water will come south, Barnett says". Sydney Morning Herald. 26 April 2011. Retrieved 7 August 2012.
- Amanda O'Brien (9 August 2008). "Barnett axes plan for water canal from Kimberley to Perth". The Australian. Retrieved 7 August 2012.
- Nicholas Perpitch (2 August 2012). "Barnett's waterway back on WA's agenda". The Australian. Retrieved 7 August 2012.
- Ben Jones (31 March 2011). "Floods revive pipe dream". The West Australian. Retrieved 7 August 2012.
- "Liberal MP pushes referendum on Kimberley - Perth canal". WA Today. 10 August 2011. Retrieved 7 August 2012.
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