Managing secondary salinity of rivers in South-Western Australia: An evaluation of the water resource recovery catchment approach



Salinization of soils and water is an increasing problem of land degradation in many countries, including large parts of Australia. Recognition of the problem has led to a number of government-directed programs both nationally and regionally. Direct support has been provided by the Western Australian Government to manage secondary water salinization of rivers in what are termed Water Resource Recovery Catchments (WRRCs) of the state's south-west. The goal of the WRRC approach is to maintain or restore the quality of water at the potential or existing damsites to potable levels.

The research reported in this paper evaluated the merits and limitations of the WRRC approach by examining scientific and agency literature and data, surveying government agencies, and interviewing representatives of stakeholders directly involved in managing the WRRCs. It was found that substantial efforts have been made to encourage on-ground implementation of fencing, revegetation, establishing perennials and other salinity-management strategies. However, these strategies generally have been insufficient to prevent continuing degradation of the WRRCs due to lack of clearing control enforcement, the slow response of upper catchments to treatment, and the insufficient scale of the treatments. Objectives other than dealing with salinization in particular also need to be identified and pursued. A newly-created government agency—the Department of Environment—is well-placed to direct such a broadened approach. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.