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Why we must balance water needs

The River Murray is the heart of our regional communities from the South Australian border to the Murray Mouth. 

Most of the rivers in the Murray–Darling Basin can be considered 'working rivers' — where water is captured, extracted or diverted to support communities, agriculture and other industries.

In South Australia, in an average year, around 7 per cent of the water taken from the River Murray is used for primary production. Other uses include water supply for towns, metropolitan Adelaide and the environment. 

Our dependence on, and the competing demands for, the water resources of the River Murray means that it is important to plan for the allocation and use of this water during periods of reduced water availability, as well as periods of plentiful supply.

South Australia is at the end of the Murray-Darling Basin river system. The River Murray gets its water from the basin upstream of the South Australian border, so we need high rainfall over a long period of time in the right interstate catchment areas so we have enough to look after the environment, to live on and to run our farms and businesses.

Rain in South Australia does not necessarily solve the problem.

We also need to ensure that enough environmental water is allowed to flow through the entire system to flush out salt and support a healthy river, wetlands and floodplains.  

By restoring the health of the river and its environment now, we are helping the region recover from the most recent drought, and prepare for any future dry times and climate change.

How we balance water needs

The South Australian Government works closely with other basin state governments and authorities to reduce the amount of water taken from the river and ensure water is shared between the needs of community, industry and the environment. One of the main ways we are doing this is through delivering the Basin Plan.

Water allocation plans are used to manage water resources sustainably and ensure the needs of the environment are taken into account when determining how much water is made available for other purposes. They set the amount of water that will be available, how that water may be allocated to users, and the types of activities that are permitted with that water.

A number of projects are underway to improve the health of the River Murray and its wetlands and floodplains, support community and industry and to provide a secure, good quality water supply.

Find out more about water planning in South Australia.

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