Community Waterway Monitoring project
Invitation for Landholder Participation

Gingin Water Group(GWG) has worked quietly over the past four years to understand and track the way the Department of Water(DOW) controls the use of water within the ground and surface systems across the Gingin region.It has made many submissions and organised public forums as well as presented local issues to the DOW.

GWG must remain effective to allow the community an ongoing voice in the way our water is allocated across the full range of users. Particularly so as the pressures on the use of water increase.

The most pressing local issue where GWG can be of immediate benefit to the community is the need to gather and collate an ongoing set of reliable data on the health of the greater Gingin Brook system. GWG has already commenced this monitoring and is set to take the 3rdround of readings at 20 sites used in the past by the DOW . The aim is for 2 monthly readings initially to build a baseline of data , then reduce to 4 per year. All data to be professionally collected and acceptable for DOW and community interpretation.

To be more meaningful to farmers and the community generally the data must accurately reflect the current situation.

At this point it does not.

Most of the system is in private ownership , and government agencies are not inclined to venture there , due in part to the prohibitive cost to them.

The system is vast and varied with differing functions and uses . However , each landholder is well aware that his bit is just part of a greater whole , which needs a greater level of understanding if it is to pass successfully to our offspring.

Landholders with an interest in caring for this system are invited to help GWG build the database of waterway conditions across the system. The focus will be on the following areas:

  • Mungala brook catchment including the Red Gully creeks and Whitfield brook
  • Gingin brook, Moondah brook and Wowra brook and Lennard brook in the east
  • Quinn brook
  • Gingin brook to the west
  • South Moore river before and after it joins with Gingin brook and to the ocean

Project Partners

Gingin Water Group will collect and collate the data . Gingin Shire and Moore Catchment Council have provided the monitoring meter.DOW and Chittering LCDC will provide input and training.Northern Agricultural Catchment Council( NACC) will fund a participant landholder explanation forum and provide an explanation of short and long term goals . NACC officers and the GWG will explain how each landholder’s personal data and any photo monitoring will be protected and kept private.

Description of data collection

Each site will be selected in consultation with the landholder to represent the region chosen.It will be described using a standardised form for future comparison. It may be photographed using a program which allows exact reproduction over time . This operates from a mobile phone and is ideal to involve the landholder’s children in the process. Water monitoring is basic but scientifically instructive over time with proper analysis and repeatability. Parameters such as temperature, pH, oxygen content, salinity and turbidity will be collected. No water will be taken off the site. Chemical analysis is expensive and not necessary at this stage of the project.

Monitoring personnel

Currently monitoring is carried out primarily by 2 GWG committee members. Rodger Walker is a NACC regional NRM field officer and Lorraine is a local resident and waterways monitoring scientist (using borrowed equipment) volunteering her time. It is expected more landholders and community members will offer to become involved in this process , though this is by no means necessary to have your section monitored.

The most important thing landholders can do is

offer to become involved in a project fundamental to understanding and tracking this changing system. Many can bring a lifetime of personal local observations to the program. The time is well overdue when this collective experience needs recording and consideration.

Interested? Then contact David Rickson 0427612918, Rodger Walker 0408891502,

Community Waterway Monitoring project
“Join us to monitor the health of our precious waterway”

Project Goals

Monitor the environmental health of this complex waterway system

  1. Build on and further establish baseline data, with a focus on the summer season brook ecology
  2. Identify areas and issues for further landcare works
  3. Assess the effectiveness of previous landcare works
  4. Understand better the waterway’s ecology
  5. Build community partnerships and sharing of information
  6. Protect and improve water quality
  7. Find ways to buffer the waterway to the effects of climate change and declining flows
  8. Inform landholders and the wider community on the current health of the waterway and the ecosystem services it provides
  9. Raise awareness of the Gingin Brook system to the wider community
  10. Identify priority works for community grant programs
  11. Enhance the area’s biodiversity and productivity

For further information, to get involved or to nominate your property as a site
Please contact David Rickson (Chairman GWG)

Summary of tour of Geo Technical survey site of Empire Oil Company
Wannamal West Road / Boonanarring ( July 2013)

On Thursday June 6th 2013 I was given a tour and explanation of the 3D Seismic survey being conducted for Empire Oil and Gas NL  managed by Terry Grocke.

On the day of the visit the onsite project had virtually finished, with the contractor’s equipment being recovered and packed for transport . The camp which held up to 60 people was about to be dismantled.

The project involved recording seismic data over an area of approximately 80 sq.kms with 23 in the Boonanarring nature reserve.   Approx 1,600 shotholes were drilled, 10-15m deep with no casing installed. Each hole was loaded with a 1 or 2kg explosive charge and backfilled to surface with graded blue metal and drill cuttings (soil).  The shot holes (seismic energy source) were located in a predetermined grid of north-south lines, Line spacing 400m, distance between holes, 50 or 100m.  and monitored by nearly 6,000 small, portable electronic devices, ‘nodes’, capable of the most accurate measurement of acoustic energy, time and position.

Shotholes were detonated one-at-a-time. Generated by the ‘shot’, acoustic energy radiated hemispherically into the subsurface.  Reflected seismic signal was recorded, amplified, digitized and  stored in memory at surface by the nodes.  For personnel on the surface, detonations were undetectable at any distance greater than about 50m from the shothole.

Immediately following detonation each shot point location was checked again, to be securely filled and were virtually invisible. I am convinced each site would be difficult to detect after one year.

The nodes were collected and returned to base where the recorded seismic data was  downloaded in a mobile ‘harvester’ (caravan full of computer hardware). After preliminary assessment the data will be sent to a specialised contractor for detailed processing which will result in a ‘data cube’ to be analysed and interpreted by geophysicists and geologists to identify possible reservoirs of natural gas or oil.  The zone of interest in this area is typically 3, 500 – 4,000m(+) deep.

The technique used was explained as being unique to Australia for several reasons. It took advantage of the most advanced technology available. Empire Oil and Gas seemed to be making a deliberate effort to impress on  the authorities and local community  its intention to use worlds best practise techniques to assess and develop the gas deposits of the region in the most ecologically sensitive way possible.

The use of helicopters to deliver seismic equipment including portable seismic drilling rigs into the field minimised the environmental footprint. This equipment was then lowered into place using a ‘long-line’.  Helicopters needed to land at base only to refuel.

Personnel walked between sites rather than driving to predetermined locations.  Bentonite clay was the preferred drilling fluid additive. Drilling fluid also contained a prescribed dose of fungicide to combat possible transport of die-back spore. Special mixing techniques had to be developed to adapt this to the airborne system used. Vehicular traffic through neighbouring farms was kept to a minimum and on existing and approved access roads only. Bio-security hygiene protocols were observed and logged.  Vehicle travel into the Reserve was limited to approved and specific access roads only and under prescribed dry soil conditions.

It was explained that the region being investigated was between 3500 and 4500m below ground. Of particular interest were regions of relatively porous sandstone which may contain gas under pressure.  I was told the gas deposits are much deeper than the water rich layers exploited for agriculture and human consumption.

Although Terry was not qualified to speak on the technicality of the existing gas field he did give me some brief of his understanding of the current situation.

There are two gas production wells existing at a single site just to the south of Wannamal west road, at the Brand highway end. They are fenced on a footprint of less than a quarter of an acre. Visually less intrusive than a small tank or stock trough. I would be happy to have them on my farm.  Stock would graze to the fence.  No sound or smell. I could not reasonably argue any water aquifers down to the Yarragadee  would be damaged.

The gas wells draw from a region around 4000m deep. One well goes straight down, the other goes vertical then horizontally to source. The explanation of their construction was not technical however it was obvious the most modern techniques  were used in an effort to construct bores which would be as safe as science could currently demand. I would like a more detailed explanation of the procedures and chemicals used to achieve what I observed and the insurances provided  to cover their lifelong safety, and what happens  beyond that time . There was no sign that large quantities of water and chemicals had been used in this procedure which would need to be kept in dams for settling. I did not see any. At the end of the well’s life it would be sealed with concrete and the hydrocarbon flow  blocked off . I would have liked more details of this process but appreciate it could only follow the strictest guidelines of the regulatory authorities.

The gas flows to the surface under pressure and is piped to the small processing facility which was not explained to me in much detail. It obviously separated the oil which was stored on site and trucked to market. Water was also extracted and  allowed to evaporate in a small lined dam. No sign of smell or oily condensate . No noise or excessive movement. No flaming burnoff.

The cleansed gas was piped in a buried line some kilometres to the west and injected into the Dampier to Bunbury pipeline.

My thanks to Empire Oil and Gas NL  for providing access to the site.
David Rickson
Chairman Gingin Water Group Inc

Newsletter 2 ( January 2013)

Annual General Meeting The inaugural AGM of the Gingin Water Group will be held on Wednesday March 6th at 7pm in the Granville centre committee room. This will be an open public meeting where a panel of experts will give a short talk based on their water experience and the importance of a local community based organisation . A quorum of members must be in attendance to ensure the GWG is manned for the next year. The current Committee is willing to restand but will only do so if there is sufficient demand.

Issues and Comments for the Committee. Form on website.
At the December meeting of the management committee it was decided that it is time the GWG changed its focus from water licensing  matters to become more of a community conduit to some of the major industries and intensive farming  operations that  have the potential to influence the water cycle at a local level. These developments often take years to come into being and then their effects to the water may not become noticable for years after that. The local community needs to keep an official line of communication  open to all these developments so that a trusting and educative relationship can ensure , and hopefully problems foreseen and addressed.
For this approach to be effective the community need to send its thoughts and issues to the Committee.
There is a form to do this on . Download the form  fill it in and  email it back . Attach pictures and charts , maps etc which can be used to form a local  baseline set of  water data against which we and future committees can measure any changes  going forward.

Our ability to track , understand and  control  changes in  our LOCAL water cycle is only as strong as the local community’s desire to get involved. Your GWG  committee needs local  information  and encouragement……NOW.

Communications commenced with proponents of Minerals Sands operation and Gingin Regional Landfill firm
In response to the move to establish a local community presence in the large developments that are taking place in our water cycle the GWG Committee has had preliminary discussions with both of the above firms.
Image Resources have  large mineral sand mining tenements in and around Gingin. They propose extensive mining , initially at their Boonoonaring site , and if successful continuing for many years. The potential to influence local water is considerable . Rigorous science and modelling is being undertaken in these  early stages to ensure that the industry can continue safely. At our December meeting the Managing Director encouraged the GWG initiative and promised full access to their monitoring and development program.
Similar discussions with   Chris Griffen of Veolia Environmental Services were welcomed and similar assurances were given  that GWG would be given similar full access to the monitoring and development process leading up to and well beyond the establishment of the Gingin regional landfill at Fernview.

Both these developments sit on top of the sands of the Mirrabooka aquifer which provide the mound springs that charge the Gingin and Moondah Brooks , and further south the Lennard Brook , as well as some important water licenses out of the superficial aquifer in that north eastern region . Our strong relationship with the scientists of the Dept of Water lead us to believe that the DoW does not have the understanding it would like of the recharging of  surface water in that area , particularly as it  works in the drying climate we have.
GWG can play an important part in the process , BUT ONLY IF local farmers supply baseline , and even historical , information about the water levels on their properties.
The DoW does not have the local data in this area.

Gingin Surface Water Allocation Plan
Remember this plan? It was released in April 2011. This was before the formation of GWG. Gingin had no local organisation capable of  following the development of this report , which is so fundamental to the social well being of Gingin residents. Imagine living without the many freshwater brooks and streams which run through our land.
Chittering Landcare did make a submission commenting on the  insufficient amount of water allocated for the benefit of the environmental assets  attached to these surface water sources.
The Report concluded that no further water licenses would be issued from the surface water , and in fact many of the sources had been OVER allocated and measures were being taken to reduce the water take.
Since the reports release there has been serious drying of the twelve surface water resources described  with some parts now completely dry and most others , if not all, showing the lowest flows ever.

The DoW  has a legal obligation , written into the Report , to evaluate the Surface water  plan’s success on an annual basis. The process of evaluation is clearly defined on page 21 of the report .

GWG views very seriously the fact that this first evaluation has not yet been done . This is particularly concerning to the local community considering the low flows of the summer of  2011(the year of the report, but NOT considered in the report) , lower again in 2012 and due to be the lowest ever in 2013.
This alone is sufficient reason to attend the AGM  to ensure you set up a community organisation  capable of  existing and functioning well into the future.
Go to and press the direct link to the Department of Water  site.This  opens at the Gingin groundwater section and read down the page to the link to the Surface Water Report.Read page 21!

Gingin  Groundwater Allocation Plan
Gingin Water Group was set up and Incorporated in  part to follow the development and release of this ground water plan. The Committee is very well qualified to oversee the work of the chairman  to develop the understandings of the science involved and build up the relationships required to have an input , on behalf of the community, in the attempt to address local water issues.
An NRM grant of  $15,000 granted by the Northern Agricultural Catchment Council , administered by the Moore Catchment Council , to allow GWG to make  a submission , on behalf of the local community , to this Water Allocation Report. Part of the grant was to be used for purposes of public communication and education in the process . The website WWW.GINGINWATER.ORG.AU  was set up to be the main facilitator  for the information flow.
Come to the AGM and tell us how you want the site improved.

The Groundwater Plan has NOT BEEN released despite being years overdue.
The 15K grant cannot be extended into the next financial year and the Groundwater Plan will not be released in draft form before the election.
The local community deserves an explanation in a region which is  experiencing serious local water table reductions and surface flow restriction.
I have received reports of  farmers bores and soaks actually drying up!
This sort of information needs to be recorded on a local register. Do not be afraid of  admitting to this . Do not assume that winter rains will resolve the situation and do not accept this as the norm.
Collectively there must be a plan to help you. Are a few deep communal bores the answer. Who pays? Whose fault the Gnangara mound leakage problem  reducing water south of Gingin Brook road?
Attend the AGM   to strengthen the voice of your Gingin Water Group Inc. 

Newsletter 1 ( July 2012)