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Eastern Mount Lofty Ranges Region

Eastern Mount Lofty Ranges

The Eastern Mount Lofty Ranges Water Resource Plan (EMLR WRP) area is located at the lower end of the Murray-Darling Basin river system and covers 3,588 km2. It extends from the Marne River catchment in the north to the Currency Creek catchment in the south. The Bremer, Angas and Finniss rivers are some of the larger watercourses in the region. These watercourses gain water from run-off in the hills and then drain across the broad Murray Plains towards Lake Alexandrina, which forms the eastern and southern boundaries of the region. The area contributes approximately 0.5 per cent of the Murray-Darling Basin’s total annual runoff. 

The EMLR WRP area which is defined by the Commonwealth Basin Plan, covers the same area as the Water Allocation Plan Eastern Mount Lofty Ranges plus the Water Allocation Plan for the Marne Saunders Prescribed Water Resources Area which were been developed under South Australian legislation. 

In the EMLR WRP the volume of water allocated for licensed uses is 55 GL*. This is enough water to fill 22,000 Olympic size swimming pools. This water supports a range of irrigated agriculture with wine grapes and irrigated pasture being the main uses. Licensed uses also include town water supply, intensive animal farming and mining/quarrying. Large quantities of water are also used for stock water (non-intensive) and domestic use which are uses that do not require a water licence.

The water resources of the EMLR WRP area also support a number of ecologically important habitats. The Fleurieu Peninsula Swamps, which extend across the southern EMLR WRP area and an adjacent non-Basin area, are listed as a ‘critically endangered’ ecological community under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Commonwealth) (the EPBC Act). These swamps provide habitat for the EPBC Act listed southern emu wren, and the broader EMLR WRP area contains habitat for the EPBC listed southern brown bandicoot. Other plant and animal species listed under state legislation or as part of international treaties are also known from the area.

The internationally listed Coorong, Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert Ramsar wetland site is located south of, and adjacent to the EMLR WRP area. 

Water resource plans are the way the Basin States demonstrate to the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) that their state’s water planning arrangements meet the standard set out in the Basin Plan. In the EMLR WRP area, South Australia’s main water planning tools are:

  • Natural Resources Management Act 2004 (SA)
  • Water Allocation Plan Eastern Mount Lofty Ranges
  • The Water Allocation Plan for the Marne Saunders Prescribed Water Resources Area. 

The proposed EMLR WRP has been submitted to the MDBA for assessment and recommendation for accreditation.  Read more information on water resource plans across the Murray-Darling Basin

*1 GL (gigalitre) is one billion litres.


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