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Water security

Water is vital to South Australia and underpins our economy, our environment and our communities.

Water security is about having an acceptable quantity and quality of water for people, communities, industry and the environment that is affordable now and into the future. This is an essential element of sustainable economic growth, underpinning all sectors of South Australia’s economy. 

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.

The water planning requirements of the Water Industry Act 2012 require the  Minister to:

  • assess the state of South Australia's water resources and the extent of water supplies available within the State
  • assess current and future demand for water within the State; and
  • outline policies, plans and strategies relevant to ensuring that the State's water supplies are secure and reliable and are able to sustain economic growth within the State.

The South Australian Government has developed a Water Security Statement, which sets out priorities to ensure our water resources continue to meet the needs of our environment, our communities and our economy.

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 its 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.

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