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Stormwater harvest protects the most valuable resource

South Australia is an acknowledged leader in the harvesting and reuse of stormwater.

By using recycled stormwater for non-drinking purposes, the use of precious drinking water can be reduced. ‘Fit-for-purpose’ uses include agricultural irrigation, irrigation of parks and sportsgrounds, as well as third-pipe supply to industrial, commercial and residential customers for uses such as toilet flushing. 

Stormwater harvesting and reuse can:

  • help ensure the sustainable management of water resources and reduce reliance on traditional water resources (such as the River Murray, reservoirs and groundwater)
  • help improve waterway and coastal water quality by removing pollutants from stormwater
  • improve local amenity and create green public open spaces
  • improve flood mitigation.

For these reasons, harvesting, cleansing and reusing stormwater are important parts of the state’s approach to urban water management and South Australia’s transition to a water sensitive state.

Download our Stormwater Strategy for background information, South Australia’s goals and a description of the ways in which stormwater can be used.

Diversifying our water supply

The South Australian Government’s water security strategy, Water For Good, highlights the importance of stormwater recycling in diversifying the state’s water supplies. It outlines the following targets:

  • by 2025, target up to 35 gigalitres (GL) per annum of stormwater to be harvested in urban South Australia for non-drinking purposes (where economically and technically feasible)
  • by 2050, have a target to achieve the capacity to provide up to 60 GL per annum of recycled stormwater in Greater Adelaide and 15 GL per annum in regional areas (where economically and technically feasible).

The Adelaide stormwater projects 

Eight stormwater harvesting and reuse projects are jointly funded by the Australian Government’s Water for the Future initiative, the South Australian Government and other partners (including local councils). In total, this represents an investment of more than $160 million in stormwater harvesting and reuse infrastructure. 

Project name Delivery agent

Adelaide Airport Stormwater Scheme

SA Water

Adelaide Botanic Gardens First Creek Wetland Project

Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources

Barker Inlet Stormwater Reuse Scheme

SA Water

Oaklands Park Stormwater Reuse Scheme

City of Marion

Unity Park Biofiltration Scheme

City of Salisbury

Waterproofing Playford - Stage 2

City of Playford

Water Reuse Scheme

City of Onkaparinga

Water Proofing the West - Stage 1

City of Charles Sturt

Together these projects have the capacity to harvest approximately eight GL per annum of stormwater. When combined with other schemes, Adelaide’s annual stormwater harvesting capacity will achieve the 2013 target of 20 GL per annum.

Cleaning stormwater

Stormwater contains a number of pollutants, including sediment and nutrients. This is why the eight Adelaide stormwater projects use a variety of techniques to clean the harvested water before it is stored in aquifers. These techniques include constructed wetlands, advanced filtration methods and small-footprint biofiltration technology. The pollutants removed by these projects would otherwise flow into the Gulf St Vincent.

Managed aquifer recharge

The eight projects store harvested stormwater using a process called managed aquifer recharge. After being harvested and cleaned, stormwater is stored underground in aquifers during wet periods so it can be extracted for reuse during dry periods.

The future of stormwater management

Building on past successes, the Stormwater Strategy outlines nine actions to improve stormwater management by integrating it with other urban water resources. A key commitment is to develop a Blueprint for Urban Water. The Blueprint will provide a guide for future investment in water infrastructure projects (such as stormwater recycling schemes and wastewater recycling schemes) and ensure that all urban water resources in Adelaide are managed in an integrated way.

You’ll need a licence or a permit

If you’re interested in developing or operating a stormwater project, you will need a water licence or permit.

Click here to view form.