The Federal Government has begun funding South Australian water infrastructure feasibility studies, with $3.7 million available to the state as part of the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund.

Deputy Prime Minister and Federal Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said the feasibility studies would help expand South Australia’s irrigated agriculture sector.

“Once more, this is real delivery of water outcomes for South Australia. Actual outcomes, not hypothetical discussions,” Mr Joyce said.

“The Coalition Government believes the right infrastructure in the right place will be vital to unlocking the full potential of our agriculture sector and rural and regional communities and this government is getting on with the job of building it.

“In SA, this includes studies that will examine the viability, economic returns and sustainability of the Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme and of establishing an irrigation industry in the Mid North and Upper North regions.

“If viable, the Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme, involving expanded irrigated horticulture and the development of a new irrigation area in the Adelaide Hills, has the potential to generate 3,630 ongoing full time regional jobs and an increase in gross regional product of $485 million a year.”

Since September 2013, the Australian Government has spent around $1.5 billion on infrastructure modernisation and efficiency improvements nationally, and is providing a further $2.5 billion under the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund and National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility.

South Australia has a total accessible water storage capacity of around 2,257GL, which is currently at more than 99 per cent capacity, at around 2,246GL.

Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Anne Ruston, said irrigated agriculture in South Australia was worth more than $1.77 billion in 2014-15, contributing around 29 per cent to the total value of the state’s agricultural production.

“We are committed to building the water infrastructure of the future. These studies will be invaluable in helping unlock the full potential of irrigated agriculture in SA, to drive future productivity, prosperity and regional growth for years to come,” Ms Ruston said.

Federal Member for Grey, Rowan Ramsey, said if viable, establishing an irrigation industry around the Mid North and Upper North regions would pave the way for high value agricultural production, attracting investment and delivering more jobs to the region.

“The feasibility study will investigate the viability of taking unused water from three existing reservoirs in the mid-north of South Australia, delivering more water to farmers,” Mr Ramsey said.

Mr Joyce said the Coalition Government is undertaking the most significant investment in infrastructure in Australian history through its $15 billion water reform agenda, with funding already on the table for construction of water infrastructure projects.

“Our government is serious about getting on with the business of building new infrastructure with $440 million announced recently for capital works, to get priority projects underway as soon as possible,” Mr Joyce said.

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