Water is vital to South Australia and underpins our economy, our environment and our communities.
Due to our climate and geography, we often experience low rainfall and droughts that can put our water supplies at risk. South Australia has a history of adapting well to the challenges facing our water resources and is recognised internationally for its capabilities in water resource management.
In the future as our climate changes and as demand for water increases, water security planning will help to make sure we are preparing for these challenges and making the most of opportunities to use our water effectively to support growth within sustainable limits.
In Adelaide, investment in recycled wastewater and desalinated water is already providing climate-independent sources of water in addition to water from reservoirs, the River Murray and groundwater.
In our regional areas, recycled wastewater, stormwater and desalinated water are accessed in addition to groundwater and surface water resources to provide water for towns and industries.
Access to secure sources of water will remain important to make sure we have the water we need to support economic growth, a vibrant and healthy society and healthy ecosystems across South Australia.
Managing our water resources
The state government is responsible for the sustainable management of South Australia’s water resources. This includes setting sustainable limits on how much water can be used, balancing the needs of the environment and other water users, and making sure water is managed to maximise economic outcomes.
Where there is a high demand for water and a need to sustainably manage water – water resources are ‘prescribed’. Water planning for prescribed areas considers current and future needs for water and how those needs can be met.
When water resources are prescribed, a licensing system of tradeable water licences is introduced to make sure water is available for the environment and is used within sustainable limits. Water allocation plans set out transparent rules and limits so that water users are given the confidence to make long-term investment decisions. These water allocation plans are prepared in consultation with the community and stakeholders.
Planning is also undertaken by SA Water to meet the water needs of their customers. SA Water supplies much of the state with drinking water and undertakes planning to help make decisions around where investment in water supplies may be required, in Adelaide and regional areas.
Water security projects currently underway
The state government is securing water supplies for our towns and regions by announcing new desalination plants for the Eyre Peninsula and Kangaroo Island.
Investment in recycled wastewater is also helping provide additional recycled water to horticultural and agricultural areas to increase production. Additional recycled water from Bolivar is being provided to the Northern Adelaide Plains area and investigations are underway to expand recycled water delivery further into the Barossa region.
We are improving the information about available water and water pricing to help businesses make informed decisions. A new water licensing management system is being developed to support more efficient water trading and investment in water. When the system is operational it will also reduce red tape and provide more timely information to customers.
An enhanced State Water Register will be digital. Other changes include enabling water entitlements to be used as collateral for loans, providing more protections for security interests in water licences and improving access to information held on the register.