Peel Integrated Water Initiative (PIWI)

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Peel Integrated Water Initiative (PIWI) is supporting the region’s growth and economic development by delivering technical information that supports climate-independent, sustainable and secure water use for the Transform Peel program, and environmental benefits for generations.

Water availability is critical for effective regional development. It underpins economic growth options and determines the viability of capital investments.

The PIWI project team is working with researchers, scientists and industry leaders to investigate how Transform Peel development opportunities can be achieved based on the region’s current and future water resources.

The team is focused on delivering two main objectives centred on water quantity and quality:

  • Water quantity: Identify a range of technically viable water source and storage options to support the expected growth in demand from Peel Food Zone and Peel Business Park, and maintain the region’s water balance.
  • Water quality: Develop strategies to protect the region’s fragile ecosystem by minimising land-use impacts on the environment and reducing agricultural nutrient runoff into the Peel-Harvey estuary by 50 per cent.

While water demand may be met through conventional sources in the medium term, innovative supply options are needed to provide water security for the Transform Peel program and enable food production for domestic and high-value international markets for the next 50 years and beyond.

The PIWI project team is undertaking extensive technical analysis to model and better understand the Peel water system. Studies include:

  • Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) feasibility study: Investigates the possibility of storing water collected over the wet winter months by pumping it into the deep natural aquifer system for future demand.   
  • Groundwater environmental tracer analysis: Used to improve existing hydrogeological knowledge of the area and extend the conceptual modelling of deeper aquifers. 
  • Airborne Electromagnetic (AEM) and seismic surveys: Measure changes in below-ground conductivity (an indicator of groundwater salinity) to provide a better understanding of the regional groundwater system before validating findings through drilling and pump testing.
  • Ecological water requirements assessment: Defines the quantity of water needed to preserve groundwater dependent ecosystems. This process will inform allocation of groundwater resources in the PIWI investigation area and support the water licensing policy.
  • Historical climate and climate change analysis: Identifies the potential impact of recent and future climate change on water resources within the PIWI investigation area, including declining rainfall and fluctuating weather patterns.
  • Water supply-demand analysis: Provides an understanding of how more intensive land uses would increase future demand for water.
  • Hydrological and nutrient modelling: Modelled under current and future climate to identify potential surface water extraction volumes, including associated nutrient loads within the PIWI project area. 
  • Soil amendment and testing: Investigates how current interventions and new strategies could improve water quality in Peel Food Zone and reduce nutrient loads into the Peel-Harvey estuarine system.

A new PIWI technical report has been produced by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation in collaboration with industry partners CSIRO, the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Peel Development Commission, Wallbridge Gilbert Aztec (WGA) and the Shire of Murray. It draws on this extensive research to evaluate water opportunities and constraints for the Transform Peel development.

The report is the culmination of an extensive technical investigation program summarised into one overarching document.

It will be released in coming months with findings and recommendations that enable government, industry and the community to make more informed decisions.

A full digital copy of the PIWI report will be available for download here and on the Transform Peel website

Peel Integrated Water Initiative is managed by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation.