Urban Bushland Council WA Inc

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Home / Campaigns / Wetland Worries

Wetland Worries

On this page we focus on groundwater and especially the Gnangara groundwater system and how water abstraction, development and climate change are adversely affecting our wetlands.


What is the future for wetlands on the Swan Coastal Plain?

yanchep-capture-002Wetland Worries (available here) was the topic of Professor Pierre Horwitz's presentation to  UBC members and supporters in April.  He talked about possible future scenarios for wetlands of the Swan Coastal Plain and presented case studies on the Yanchep wetland system, Lake Jandabup and Lake Jualbup.

He reminded us that in 1966 it was estimated that 49% of our wetlands on the Swan Coastal Plain had been lost to agriculture or urban development and that by 1999 this had grown to 70%. 

In his talk, he indicated that hydrological pressure (ie changes in ground water level) was placing areas at significant threat, leading to adverse consequences for water quality, serious losses of fauna, shifting wetland vegetation patterns and the perennial problems of fire entering organic sediments.

Remember, this in an area that has more ecological communities than any other bioregion in Australia and is arguably the most threatened part of south-west WA, itself an eco-region of extraordinary biodiversity under extraordinary pressure!

Professor Horwitz concluded his talk by reminding all attending that:

  •     We have a history of wetland loss
  •     Modelling (lake levels) does not always work (refer Yanchep wetland system)
  •     Restoration can be successful (Refer Lake Jandabup case study)
  •     When costing water for restoration; need to include costing of the benefits
  •     Because we can supplement wetlands, that does not mean that we should. (refer Lake Jualbup case study)


The obvious problem is that we are taking too much water out of the system.

Image: P. Horwitz (Loch McNess March 2006, March 2011)

You can contact Professor Pierre Horwitz here.


Lake Nowergup/Carabooda Valley Community Update


picture1Our battle continues against WA Limestone’s proposal to clear 7 hectares of bushland to establish a limestone quarry and concrete batching plant.  Readers may remember our long going battle to stop this industrialisation adjacent to Neerabup National Park and Lake Nowergup.

We are happy to report that the proponents have still not been granted a clearing permit, despite making their application to the DEC over 12 months ago.  The DEC received over 100 submissions opposing such a clearing permit and this delay clearly validates the concerns expressed.  It is clear that this site poses considerable environmental threats and it is inconceivable that this proposal is even being entertained.

Photo by Sabine Winton.  Planning Minister John Day with Michael Mischin MLC at Lake Nowergup in 2010.  Mmm, its going to be hard convincing people that we need a quarry more than this lake.

For many of you, I am sure that you read these updates and recognise a familiar pattern to other campaigns. 

Some how, despite the overwhelming public opposition, despite the overwhelming environmental and social arguments against these proposals, the passage of time seems to benefit the proponents.  Whilst developers like to moan,  I can’t think of too many proposals that actually get refused.  With the passage of time, miracles are performed, mostly by environmental consultants,  and somehow these proposals can be ‘accepted” as not having a significant environmental impact.

And we are sure that those submissions are being made to the DEC now. Somehow all of these isolated proposals can be made to not be environmentally significant, yet collectively they are having a devastating effect on the clearing of our urban bushland.

What we need

picture2What we need is for the Government to see this proposal for what it is. It cannot be viewed in isolation. 

The opportunity cost to the environment and the community must be taken into account.  The old growth tuarts and kaarst values of this site are enormous. 

The  potential for this area to become a rural and conservation precinct to service the growing Northern Corridor(with all of its bushland cleared in its wake) is enormous.  

How can 4 hectares of limestone be a price worth paying?  How can 4 hectares of limestone really make a contribution to keep building costs in our State down?  The fear for us remains, that this site is a potential industrial site to service that housing market for concrete and cement.

Photo by Sabine Winton. Bipartisan support at our rally in 2010.  Can you spot the Liberal Members of Parliament?  Do they really want to Save Lake Nowergup?

 We see things differently. 

This area has the potential to provide a much needed conservation precent for the northern corridor living in increasingly sterile communities.

We have been teased with possible landswaps by our politicians.  In the past we have been promised protection by the WAPC through its Future of East Wanneroo study which clearly showed the Nowergup Valley as needing protection. 



Most recently we have heard that the Community Cabinet Meeting  will be visiting the Wanneroo area. 

We hope they take up our invitation to meet with us, tour this beautiful valley and come to appreciate the unique environmental assets that we are fighting for and show some vision.

In the past our local politicans have been very happy to support our campaign.  It’s time they stepped up. 

It’s time the Liberal Government gave the environment and the community a fair go.


Photo by Sabine Winton.  Lake Nowergup, the deepest permanent wetland on the Swan Coastal Plain.


You can find further information about our Group here, or visit our Facebook page here.