Powering the Island
The Rottnest Island Authority produces and supplies water for domestic consumption and other uses on Rottnest Island. There are two water-supply borefields in operation; the Longreach Bay borefield (where the island’s desalination plant draws its water) and Wadjemup borefield (which has the potential to provide low-salinity water to the system).
The total amount of water available to be abstracted from ground water resources on the Island is up to 630,000kL per year. This is provided through desalination supply (332,612kL in 2017) and groundwater abstraction (0kL in 2017). Desalination supply water is produced by a seawater reverse osmosis plant which receives salt water from the Longreach Bay borefield. This has historically been supplemented from a limited ‘fresh’ water borefield (Wadjemup bore field).
In January 2001 the Rottnest Island Authority (RIA) reported that its underground water supply was being depleted and the salt levels in the fresh water were rising. This was attributed to the overall ongoing lack of rainfall on Rottnest Island over the previous 5-10 years. In response to this, RIA produced an Integrated Water and Power Development Plan. The philosophy behind the plan was to shift from a predominantly rainfall dependant water source to a majority of potable water being supplied through desalination. A single wind turbine would supplement diesel-generated power in order to make the shift economically and environmentally acceptable.
Since 2012, the Rottnest Island Authority have significantly invested in the upgrade of water utilities to create greater capacity in desalination and waste water reuse, in order to reduce reliance on limited groundwater resources. To consolidate these efforts, available groundwater abstraction from the Wadjemup Aquifer is now limited to a maximum of 20,000kL per year, a significant reduction from the average of 33,000kL per year abstracted since 2007. In a notable achievement, no water was taken from the Wadjemup Aquifer in 2017, the first year in recent history.
Recycled Water Scheme
In 2017 Rottnest Island Authority completed an upgrade to the existing Waste Water Treatment Plant by converting the existing Cyclic Activated Sludge System to a Membrane Bioreactor that allows for improved and more consistent treated water quality, and reduces the pollution risk. The plant will seek to recover 65,000kL of waste water annually, which will be used for irrigation purposes on Rottnest Island, further reducing the requirement to undertake abstraction from ground water resources and off set desalinisation production.
Irrigating with treated waste water is regulated by environmental and public health approvals and strictly managed by the nutrient irrigation and recycled water quality management plans. This ensures regulatory compliance and good environmental and public outcomes. Regular monitoring is undertaken of treated waste water quality, irrigation and turf management practices and receiving environments.
Powering the Island
Rottnest Island is committed to increasing renewable energy penetration and minimising environmental impacts including greenhouse gas emissions. Renewable energy technologies are ever improving, allowing us to obtain energy from natural resources that can be constantly replenished.
Electric power on the Island is generated and supplied through an integrated power generation system including a 600kW wind turbine, 600kW solar farm and a power generation plant with low-load diesel and standard diesel generators.
Rottnest Island's wind turbine produces approximately 30% of the Islands’ yearly power needs, and at maximum capacity the turbine will be able to produce up to 37% of the Island’s power. The Rottnest Island wind energy project has been evolving from as far back as 1979. Construction of several wind turbines on Rottnest Island was proposed as part of a plan to find the most effective and least costly electricity supply to remote locations. Two original wind turbines of different design were erected on Forbes Hill, however difficulties experienced by these turbines led to their removal in the early 1990s. Prior to the installation of the new wind turbine generator in December 2004, Rottnest Island was totally reliant on liquid petroleum fuels for power generation.
Rottnest Island is moving towards a sustainable future by increasing the amount of renewable energy used to create electricity on the Island, and by better integrating the availability of renewable energy with electricity demand. In 2017, Rottnest Island constructed a 600kW solar farm, with associated control systems, energy efficiency improvements, and technologies to better manage demand, including the use of excess renewable energy to power the Island’s water desalination plant.
It is anticipated that current renewable energy systems, including the existing wind turbine, solar PV, control system upgrade, demand side management and energy efficiency through water use improvements via the WWTP upgrade, will result in 45% of the Island’s energy (electrical) supply within the next 5 years sourced from renewable energy. Rottnest is one of only a few small islands worldwide to have achieved this benchmark.
View the Solar Farm Project fact sheet.
NEW Rottnest Island Water and Renewable Energy Nexus Mobile App
View Rottnest Island's renewable power generation in real time with Hydro Tasmania's NEW Rottnest Island Water and Renewable Energy Nexus project mobile phone app.
This app will take you on a journey through the exciting renewable energy scheme that is making Rottnest Island more self-sufficient and sustainable. Use the app to explore the Island, visit the solar farm and wind turbine and discover ways to reduce your ecological footprint. Don't forget to look out for the educational signs dotted across the Island!
Rottnest Island has an amazing coffee culture. But with the abundance of delicious takeaway options, we are using an astounding 240,000 disposable cups each year.
Did you know that most disposable cups are lined with plastic and therefore cannot be recycled?
If YOU use disposable cups all year long, that equates to almost a KILO of plastic!
One Earth estimate that every minute over one million disposable cups end up in landfill!
Now YOU can make a difference on Rottnest Island...
Eco-Friendly Express Cups have arrived!
Help us strive towards our ambitious sustainability targets by opting for a reusable cup and you’ll receive 50 cents off your coffee.
Express Cups are now available from participating businesses across the Island.
Marine Management Strategy
The Marine Management Strategy (MMS) for Rottnest Island has been developed with the main focus of ensuring the unique marine environment of Rottnest Island is preserved and enhanced for future generations to enjoy. The main components of the MMS include a zoning plan which involves additional sanctuary zones, monitoring and research, education programs, enforcement and compliance.
Recently, the zoning plan saw the extension of two sanctuary zones at Parker Point and Kingston Reef and the creation of new sanctuary zones at Green Island, Armstrong Bay and West End. The West End is a designated demersal sanctuary zone to protect bottom-dwelling or ‘demersal’ fish species. The new sanctuary zones and the demersal sanctuary zone will lead to important changes to the use of the Marine Reserve.
Significant efforts have been taken to minimize the effects on recreational fishing, whether from the shore or a marine vessel. The increase in sanctuary zones will have minimal impact on shoreline and boat-based recreational fishing as 83 percent of the shoreline remains accessible for fishing. Excised areas in the new sanctuary zones have been allocated to recognise popular shore-based fishing sites and boat-based trolling areas, targeting pelagic species at West End. View the Rottnest Island Fishing Guide.
Marine Sanctuary Zones
There are five marine sanctuary zones surrounding the island. The Rottnest Island Authority is currently trialling a new style of in water marker buoys to assist marine users in defining the sanctuary zones within the Rottnest Reserve. The new markers are yellow and have a 3 metre focal height. Each marker has a St George cross and a white light flashing 0.3 on, 0.7off, 0.3on, 0.7 off, 0.9on, 7.1 off - FL (3) 10S. The words “SANCTUARY ZONE” are printed down the shaft of the marker. The first area to trial the new markers are off Parker Point.
It is envisaged that markers will be more cost efficient than the existing tri markers and better suited for the water conditions. If the trial is successful the markers will be deployed in the sanctuary zone near Geordie Bay before the cray fish season opens later in 2015. Please refer to the sanctuary maps and the current Marine and Boating Guide.
The coordinates of each zone can be viewed on the maps below:
Rottnest Island Zoning Map
Sanctuary Zone 1 map: Kingston Reef
Sanctuary Zone 2 map: Parker Point
Sanctuary Zone 3 map: Green Island
Sanctuary Zone 4 map: West End Demersal Zone
Sanctuary Zone 5 map: Armstrong
Frequently Asked Questions
Recycling & Waste Disposal
Receiving its quirky name from some fabulous competition entrants in our recent "Name the Beast" Facebook Competition - Recyclosaurous, is our new favourite addition to Rottnest Island!
Thanks to this new arrival, we can work towards achieving our sustainability goals and preserve the Island’s unique and beautiful environment. See how we're improving the Island's waste management...
The Crushing TruthIn late August we welcomed the arrival of a new Glass Crusher on to Rottnest Island. As the name suggests, the glass crusher will allow us to crush glass waste enabling its reuse on the Island. Annually, Rottnest Island exports up to 100T of glass from the Island to waste and recycling facilities in Perth. This is approximately 7.8% of Rottnest’s total waste stream!
Thanks to our new arrival, we can work towards achieving our sustainability goals and preserve the Island’s unique and beautiful environment. The Glass Crusher will improve the Island’s waste management significantly, giving us the ability to reuse glass in Island’s operations including pipe bedding, capping landfill and walk trails floor work.
The project was made possible through a co-funding partnership between the Rottnest Island Authority, the Australian Food and Grocery Council, The Australian Packaging Covenant and the Waste Authority through the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Account.
Recycle it's Vital!
Handy hints on recycling in Rottnest Island! (pdf 21KB)
In November 2006, the Rottnest Island Authority implemented a revised waste management strategy resulting in general waste streams no longer being disposed of at the Island landfill site. All rubbish and recyclables are now sent off the Island to be processed at the South Metropolitan Regional Council (SMRC) resource recovery centre in Canning Vale. This is the most environmentally and economically sustainable option for waste generated on the Island and ensures that Rottnest Island’s pristine environment is conserved.
The two stream waste system now operating on the Island is similar to what is occurring in local councils, with the only difference being that the rubbish is composted at the SMRC plant. This is why it is doubly important to make sure that rubbish and recyclables are sorted correctly as recyclables in the rubbish stream are considered contamination and vice versa.
Grant and government funding contributed $1.5 million to implement the revised waste management strategy. With the ultimate goal being increased diversion from landfill from 53% to a maximum of 92% (assuming an 85% recovery rate is achieved at the SMRC facility) and provide a model of best practice to the world.
A new transfer station constructed at the site of the existing landfill was commissioned in September 2006. It provides a site for compacting and storage of all waste and recyclables for transport by barge to the mainland for further processing and resource recovery. New trucks were purchased including two new collection vehicles and a hook lift truck to move the 30 m3 bulk bins to and from the barge.
Recycling bins along with rubbish bins are now provided in each accommodation unit and 105 public recycling stations throughout the island have been upgraded with new bins and stickers.
In addition, several other initiatives have been undertaken in order to reduce waste:
- Plastic film from pallets arriving on the Island is recycled through AMCOR.
- All commercial business now have access to cardboard balers.
- Battery recycling stations have been put in the main staff office.
- All florescent tubes are separated from general waste and sent to Advanced Recycling for safe resource recovery and disposal.
- Hard plastics e.g. old cray pots and chairs are recycled through Ruggies Recycling with the proceeds going to PMH Foundation.
Pre November 2006
In 1996 Rottnest Island introduced a range of new initiatives, including the first public place recycling program in Western Australia, and subsequently a composting process for organic materials at the Island’s landfill. It included over 70 recycling stations throughout the Island for the separation of glass, plastic and aluminium. These were sorted and processed on the Island to a commercial recycling standard and barged off the Island.
Commercial premises were also provided with opportunities to recycle those materials referred to previously, plus cardboard, cooking oil and food waste.
A composting process was commenced for food waste, biosolids and cardboard. However, due to concerns regarding test results by the Department of Health, the composting material was contained within the landfill area.
The remainder of the waste, not separated for recycling or composing, was buried in an unlined landfill cell on the Island. Evidence of the formation of nutrient leachate was recorded at this site, presenting a possible environmental hazard.
The Western Australian Department of Environmental Protection advised the Rottnest Island Authority that no further landfill cells will be allowed to be developed without a liner being provided. It was anticipated that the cost of the liner and leachate collection would be approximately $700,000.
In light of this information the RIA contracted A Prince Consulting to assess the situation and revise the strategy, which has now been implemented.
Rottnest Island Nursery
Making an effort to conserve and sustain our environment has never been more important and the small steps we take today will greatly impact the futures of generations to come.
The Rottnest Island Environmental Team manage the Rottnest Island Nursery to propagate plants with island provenance used in the reforestation program and in remediating uncontrolled beach access.
Nursery activities include seed collection, seed treatment, seed storage and propagation of seedling species native to Rottnest Island. A specialised volunteer team was formed to assist with nursery activities, which currently contributes approximately 1800 volunteer hours per year. The nursery currently has capacity to propagate up to 40,000 seedlings (using seeds and cuttings collected from the island) to deliver conservation projects cost-effectively.
Interested in volunteering some time to tree planting around Rottnest Island?
Rottnest Society members and friends make a significant contribution to the sustainability of Rottnest Island by planting up to 25,000 trees each year. Find out how you can help.
Securing Our Future
Making an effort to conserve and sustain our environment has never been more important and the small steps we take today will greatly impact the futures of generations to come. Here's how you can help us reduce our ecological footprint.
Minimise your impact!
You can minimise the impact of your visit by considering these conservation tips:
- Save power - turn off all lights and appliances when you head out for a swim or cycle.
- Use water sparingly. Remember many communities face water shortages (including Rottnest Island). Conserve water by taking a quick shower and turning off the tap when you brush your teeth.
- Carry a reusable water bottle (however keep in mind that drinking water is limited outside of the Main Settlement area so bring sufficient supplies for your island adventures.
- Keep Australia beautiful - dispose of your rubbish responsibly.
- Do not touch or feed the Quokkas (or other wildlife). Help us conserve and sustain the wildlife for many more generations to enjoy!
- Do not bring flora or fauna to the island without preapproval.
- Do not take flora or fauna from the Island (this includes shells and flowers).
- Recycle - it's vital (here's how)!
Your admission fees
Rottnest Island is an isolated community, totally reliant upon its own resources for provision of essential services. Your admission fees contribute to the conservation of the island and help us work towards long term sustainability as a self-funded tourism destination. Find out how your admission fees are powering the island.
Visitor feedback for metering water, electricity and gas use
We also recently introduced energy and water conservation features to Rottnest Island. Metering water, electricity and gas use to measure savings, together with visitor feedback, will help to fine-tune the changes and decide what equipment and design will be adopted for wider use in future refurbishment. The aim is to reduce resource use and improve visitor comfort.