Expanding irrigated agriculture in SA

The South Australian Government will invest $110 million to help expand the Northern Adelaide Plains irrigated food production area.

South Australian Premier, Jay Weatherill, Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, Leon Bignell, and Minister for Water, Ian Hunter, said the State Government has submitted an application to the Federal Government’s National Water Infrastructure Development Fund (NWIDF) to help fund the project.

If the application is successful, the State Government will invest $110 million in the project – through SA Water – and is seeking a $45.6 million funding commitment from the Federal Government.

A combined $155.6 million would deliver an additional 12 gigalitres (GL) a year of recycled water suitable for agricultural use from the Bolivar Wastewater Treatment Plant – an increase of 60 per cent – to help expand the state’s irrigated agriculture industry.

New infrastructure would be built to deliver this recycled water to industry, with capacity to increase to 20GL a year as demand and access to interstate and overseas markets grow.

“Economic development projects like this are vital to ensuring our communities in this region can enjoy a prosperous future,” Mr Hunter said.

“As part of the NAIS, recycled water from Adelaide’s largest wastewater treatment plant at Bolivar will be piped north of the Gawler River, enabling a major new irrigation area to be established.

The State Government will continue to work with proponents, industry groups and growers in the region to ensure a fair, equitable and transparent process, and determine how they can participate in the additional recycled water allocation which delivers the greatest state benefit.

The project would also reduce impacts on the environment by making better use of recycled wastewater.

“The State Government wants to help secure large volumes of low-cost, high security water to lift the capacity and potential of the Northern Adelaide Plains region, for the long term viability of its food industries and the social and economic future of its communities,” Mr Bignell said.

“With the right support and infrastructure, the region will be able to play a key role in achieving the objectives of the state’s Premium Food and Wine Produced in our Clean Environment and Exported to the World economic priority.”

The project is expected to create 3700 jobs and add more than $500 million to the South Australian economy.

Subject to receiving the funding, construction of the Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme will begin in late 2017, with recycled water expected to be flowing to irrigators from December 2018.

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