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Monday, 24 May 1965

Senator PALTRIDGE (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Defence) - The honorable senator indicated to me that he was proposing to ask a question on this matter. I have conferred with my colleague, the Minister for National Development, and I am now able to advise the honorable senator that the Water Research Foundation of Australia is not a public authority and does not undertake the construction of works such as the laying of pipelines. The Foundation is concerned with the obtaining and allocation of funds for research in the water field. The possibility of the laying of pipelines to carry water over long distances to areas which have consistently low rainfalls is not so much a matter of research or of technical knowhow as of costs and economics. Pipelines have advantages over earth or concrete channels because they can be operated almost irrespective of terrain by the installation of pumps and they also minimise the evaporation and seepage losses that occur in channels. However, pipelines are relatively expensive compared with channels.

Long pipelines have been and continue to be used in many States, particularly Western Australia and South Australia. In the Goldfields and Agricultural Water Supply Scheme in Western Australia water is pumped nearly 350 miles from Mundaring Reservoir to Kalgoorlie. The total length of branch pipelines to mining areas, agricultural areas and country towns is over 3,780 miles. The Comprehensive Water Supply Scheme, which was authorised in 1947, enlarged and extended the Goldfields and Agricultural Scheme, and further extensions now in progress will bring water to 13 more towns and 1,600 more farms. In

South Australia, the 223 mile MorganWhyalla pipeline from the Murray River is being duplicated at a cost of £17.8 million. Where there is a call for new or supplementary water supplies, whether for irrigation or industrial and domestic purposes, supply by pipeline is invariably considered among the several alternative methods that may be possible.

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