South Australia sees sustainable water management as an unquestionable foundation for its future economic prosperity and wealth.
Tailoring water solutions for different industry requirements enables these resources to be leveraged for highest economic use, while maintaining supplies for key environmental assets. These solutions are also drivers of innovation and ensure our water dependent industries continue to be internationally competitive.
Water for agriculture and food production
South Australia is a leader in efficient irrigation water use practices. Our agricultural and water supply industries and communities are skilled at extracting the best value from our limited water resources for the benefit of South Australian people.
Starting in the 1960, we have moved away from open irrigation channels to pressurised pump systems and on-farm delivery technologies such as drip irrigation. The state has managed an improvement to water use efficiency of about 60 to 80 per cent so far, with more reform expected to take place.
This has been supported by the development and roll out of the South Australian River Murray Sustainability Irrigation Industry Improvement Program, a Commonwealth-funded, state-run grants program designed to further optimise the state's River Murray irrigation sector and help businesses adapt to global markets and changing local conditions such as climate change.
Water for mining, oil and gas
The development of mineral and energy resources can potentially impact on water resource availability and water quality for existing users, other economic interests, and the environment, if not managed properly. Water use in mineral and/or energy industries include usage for mine site and camp amenities, industrial use such as dust suppression, vehicle cleaning, drilling and hydraulic fracturing, separating ore and cooling. In addition, water is used in de-watering processes, extracted as a byproduct of oil and gas production, or potentially extracted where pit lakes are formed once an operation has ended.
In South Australia, the environmental impacts of these developments are to be managed to a level that is as low as reasonably practicable and that meet the expectations of the community and relevant regulators. This way, sustainable water resources are supported for mineral and energy development as well as other uses, including households, stock, irrigation, other industries, ‘Aboriginal culture and heritage’, recreation, and the environment.
As competition for water use increases across the state, particularly in the context of a changing climate, water and its availability will become increasingly important for the growth of the resources industries. A clear and robust regulatory framework that ensures sustainable water management provides certainty for future investment and jobs, whilst also ensuring South Australia demonstrates to the wider community that mineral and energy resource development can be part of a sustainable future.