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Adelaide Desalination Plant

Why was the Adelaide Desalination Plant built?

The Adelaide Desalination Plant was constructed to safeguard urban water supplies and ensure that sufficient water is available to meet Adelaide’s needs in extremely dry years.

The plant was built following the Millennium Drought to provide a source of water which is not dependant on the climate, in addition to the state’s reservoirs, stormwater, wastewater and the River Murray. 

The combination of these sources of water provides the necessary water security to underpin South Australia’s economic and population growth to 2050.

For more information on how the plant works, visit SA Water.

How is the plant factored into water allocation decisions?

The plant makes a major difference to how water is shared between all South Australian water entitlement holders of the River Murray in dry years.

By reducing Adelaide’s reliance on the River Murray in dry years, an additional 50 GL of available River Murray water is then able to be released to holders of irrigation licenses, which would not be possible without the insurance provided by the plant.

This boosts irrigation allocations by 8 per cent and applies whenever irrigators are on less than 100 per cent.

What are the environmental impacts of the plant?

The Adelaide Desalination Plant has one of the smallest carbon footprints of any desalination plant in the world.

Independent reviews of the plant's environmental impact has shown that it has caused no harm to the environment.

This has been achieved by:

  • using energy from renewable sources
  • harvesting rainwater on-site for use within the plant
  • capturing stormwater and surface water run-off in local wetlands as this process naturally cleans the water before it goes out to sea
  • growing Indigenous plant species and encouraging animals to return to the site
  • continually monitoring the environmental health of Gulf St Vincent.
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