Many of the existing and proposed Perth MTB facilities are located within Public Drinking Water Source Areas which are controlled by the West Australian Department of Water, under the direction of the Minister for Water. The Department of Water’s Operational policy 13: “Recreation Within Public Drinking Water Source Areas on Crown Land” provides the guidance for the management of MTB in these areas.
The Kalamunda Mountain Bike Collective believes that the implementation of the current policy 13 is causing additional significant environmental damage, in not allowing proper sustainable management of MTB facilities within PDWSA’s to occur. This is due to the setting of the unenforceable and unrealistic target levels of use.We believe that a full open, transparent and public review of Policy 13 is the only way the successfulness of the policy, along with the environmental impact of the levels of usage set, can be truly assessed.
What are Public Drinking Water Source Areas?
There are various types of allocated and protected water catchments in and around Perth and Western Australia. In order to protect the catchment and recharge areas for drinking water reservoirs and bore fields, the Government, through the Department of Water gazette water reserves, catchment areas and underground water pollution control areas. Collectively, these are known as public drinking water source areas (PDWSAs). PDWSAs are proclaimed under the Metropolitan Water Supply, Sewerage and Drainage Act 1909. Bylaws created under these statutes enable them to manage potentially polluting activities, regulate land use, inspect premises and to take the necessary steps to prevent or clean up pollution.
What is Policy 13?
It is an operational policy adopted by the West Australian Department of Water. It effectively controls an sets the direction for land managers to manage “Recreation Within Public Drinking Water Source Areas on Crown Land”. This government policy is applied to both National Parks and State Forest controlled by DBCA (formally DPAW) and on most Shire managed land. It was adopted in 2012 following a parliamentary review.
So why is the current Policy 13 a problem?
The Policy sets what is permitted in terms of new recreation development/facilities and also sets the level of recreational use that should be supported for all users and the various recreational types. The policy seeks to control the number of recreational users accessing PDWSA by stating that numbers of users should not increase beyond 2012 levels (when the Policy was adopted). To try and achieve this it states that no new trails or facilities should be developed in PDWSA post 2012. It states that whilst those existing facilities (pre 2012) can be retained, any expansion or improvements to those existing facilities should not be supported. It also states that any new trail or facility developments should occur in areas outside of PDWSA’s.
So how does this affect MTB?
With regards to MTB specifically it states that no new MTB trails or related facilities should be developed in PDWSA post 2012. It also states that whilst those pre 2012 facilities can be retained, any expansion or improvements to existing MTB trail networks or facilities cannot be supported. With MTB being the awesome sport that it is, its rapid expansion in the 5 years since Policy 13 was adopted has seen the demand for more trails and better facilities grow massively. Not being able to meet this demand due to effectively a blanket ban, has led to other wider environmental impacts such as overflow car parking areas in the bush being created, a severe lack of sufficient toilet facilities. The closing down of an official route to undertaking sustainable trail planning and developing environmentally sensitive trails has also understandably lead to a rise in unsanctioned trail building to meet the increase in demand.
So what is the answer?
The Kalamunda Collective believes that the current Policy is failing in protecting water quality and its implementation is having an increased environmental impact. We believe that proper recreation management of the areas could lead to better outcomes and that a constructive conversation with all stakeholders is required. The Perth and Peel MTB Plan has taken into consideration the suitability of the Perth Hills and a lack of alternative sites outside of PDWSA’s is apparent. Also the lack of government funding and the cost effectiveness of expanding existing facilities to ensure their sustainability needs to be factored in and considered. In short there is little capacity to provide new facilities outside of PDWSA’s and the numbers of users and demand on existing facilities is only set to increase. The Kalamunda Collective is therefore actively campaigning for a realistic and responsible approach to be taken.
What does this petition hope to achieve?
It will highlight to the Minister of Water, who will ultimately decide the level of the Policy review, that the Policy is failing and is having other wide scale environmental impacts. Also that the MTB community will like an input into determining public policy and in-house review won’t cut it. It should be an open, public and transparent review that looks at all the impacts.
Why do we need your support now?
The policy is due for its first 5 yearly review. We need to focus on this as once the review is completed the policy will continue to be implemented for a further 5 years.
Why not simply campaign to get rid of the Policy and/or the water catchment altogether?
It is simply unrealistic to say that Perth and the wider Western Australian area does not have a drinking water shortage. We appreciate that the these Drinking Water Source Areas are important and will need to be retained, however we’d like to see proper management of the areas rather than a blanket ban which isn’t working. The current approach of effectively banning any new and improved MTB facilities is leading to wider spread environmental damage and conflict between stakeholders.
What areas does it apply to?
It covers large areas of the Perth Hills and surrounds, including all the Kalamunda Trails and both the Forsyth Mill and Turners Hill MTB trail. It also potentially impacts on new trail developments highlighted in the Perth Peel MTB Master Plan.
Won’t it lead to greater promotion of the problems and create more conflict?
The main reasoning behind this petition has come about through the Kalamunda Collective Committee being called into discussions with State Government Agencies regarding the issue of unsanctioned trail building. This was not something actively pursued by the Kalamunda Collective committee, but as the options put forward by the various stakeholders have now exhausted it is felt that this is the only route left to us. Whilst we can’t publically condone the building of unsanctioned trails, we understand why they have developed and the frustrations behind them. Particularly with the lack of truly advanced trails in the Perth metro area. The Kalamunda Collective committee will be campaigning hard for these trails to be retained, and that trails close to Perth (particularly advanced) should be a priority. Whilst no guarantees can be given about the future, having a persistent and professional presence can at least ensure that the MTB communities voice is heard and hopefully avoid the future loss of any MTB trails in and around Perth which seems to be occurring.