Director General’s messag

Thank you for reading the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation’s 2018–19 annual report. It reflects our second full year of operation which has seen change, consolidation and continued delivery of the government’s priorities and our services.

One of the biggest changes for our department in 2018–19 was the relocation of our headquarters and some 700 staff from the Perth central business district to Prime House in Davidson Terrace, Joondalup. Despite this significant change for our staff and stakeholders, I am very pleased that we continued to deliver on our services and priorities consistent with our vision of a healthy environment and secure water resources, valued by all, to support a liveable and prosperous Western Australia. I would like to take this opportunity to again acknowledge the Department of Finance for its role in leading and managing the commissioning of our excellent new headquarters and our move.

Over this past year, we have continued to work to fulfil the government’s ‘one-stop-shop’ vision for the department, streamlining water and environmental approvals, improving services to the community and planning for some of the biggest challenges facing our state, such as climate change.

We do not do this work in isolation, however. We work closely with other stakeholders to seek and share information that strengthens our regulatory, policy and guidance roles. I thank our partners and stakeholders across state and local government, industry, academia and the community who have continued to work with us to find innovative solutions to the state’s environmental and water challenges.

I am proud to lead an organisation that is committed to meaningful engagement with traditional owners across Western Australia. This year saw the launch of our first Reconciliation action plan, the continuation of our Aboriginal Water and Environment Advisory Group and our efforts to protect the extraordinary Murujuga rock art in the Pilbara, which has immense cultural and spiritual significance to Aboriginal people.

While this report provides a thorough account of our achievements and the breadth of our work, some items of note include:

  • As part of the government’s commitment to sustainable economic development in the Fitzroy River catchment, we will develop a Fitzroy water allocation plan in 2020. This will provide for the long-term and sustainable use of the region’s water resources, while making sure the unique National Heritage-listed environmental and cultural values of the Fitzroy River are protected.
  • During the past 12 months, we have reduced waste through a ban on lightweight plastic bags from 1 July 2018 and prepared for the launch of a new container deposit scheme. Containers for Change, which takes effect from 2 June 2020, will encourage people to collect drink containers covered by the scheme for a 10 cent refund, reducing litter and protecting the environment.
  • We dealt with some 3000 applications for water licences, provided water and environmental advice as part of the land planning process, and made good progress on preparing the next Gnangara water allocation plan.
  • The introduction of fees during the year for some water licences and increases to clearing permit fees has made more resources available to the department to improve service delivery and reduce assessment and approval times.
  • The department continues to deliver on commitments designed to improve the health of six south-west estuaries as part of the Regional Estuaries Initiative.
  • We have also continued our successful compliance and enforcement and industry regulation programs that protect our environment and communities.

Of course, none of these and our many other achievements would be possible without the support and commitment of our staff. One of our corporate values is ‘Better Together’ and I am very much reminded of this as I reflect on our collective effort during the year. I would like to take the opportunity to again thank our dedicated staff across the state who work tirelessly to achieve outcomes for our water resources and environment and for the people and businesses of Western Australia who rely on them.

It is an exciting time to be working together as we continue to play a vital role in shaping the Western Australia of the future.

Mike Rowe
Director General
26 September 2019