Water planning

High quality research and monitoring underpin water and conservation policy in South Australia. They help us better understand surface and groundwater resources so that we can allocate water to communities, industry and the environment, confident that we're doing so sustainably.

The actions underway as part of the Water For Good Plan have been carefully formulated to ensure that we have a secure and reliable supply of water now and in the future.

How does water planning work?

Planning to ensure that water will be available to all in the long-term future is complicated. No one knows for sure, for example, how much rainfall there will be in any given year, or when the next period of drought might begin.

There are three types of planning that take place in South Australia to ensure water resources are managed sustainably. Whilst they are related, each type has a different but equally important purpose:

  • Water allocation plans are legal documents that set out the rules for managing the take and use of some of our most important water resources. Natural Resources Management boards are responsible for creating and regularly reviewing them
  • SA Water’s long term plans aim to ensure that our drinking water supply system has sufficient capacity over a long term (30 years) to enable growth and development across the state
  • Regional demand and supply statements help us forecast potential future shortfalls in water supply and give us the opportunity to plan ahead to address the gaps. The Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources creates these.

Check out our brochure on water planning for South Australia to find out more.

Annual cost of water planning and management 

DEWNR spends more than $40m a year on water planning and management related activities.

The legislation

The Water Industry Act 2012 is arguably the biggest overhaul of water industry legislation in South Australia’s history.

It brings different acts of Parliament into a single piece of legislation so that we are able to take an integrated approach to the water industry’s planning and regulation activities.

The Act balances local industry’s need for a more level playing field with the community’s need for water service delivery that is safe, reliable, affordable and environmentally sustainable.

National advocacy

Our ability to achieve water security will be limited if we don’t participate in water planning at the national level. This is because some of our most important sources of water are shared with other Australian states and territories. Here are just a few examples of the projects we're involved in:

Other water planning topics

Plantation forests provide significant benefits to South Australia. To balance the social, economic and environmental water needs of the state while providing certainty for the forestry industry, a range of planning tools is available. See our section on water for commercial forestry for details.

From time to time, the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation may issue a legal notice to protect – or allow increased access – to a water resource. See notices to restrict or authorise water for more.