Adelaide
Administration

Surface water and groundwater

Water legislation

Water resources, including watercourses in the Adelaide region, are managed according to the Natural Resources Management Act 2004 (South Australia), (the Act). The Act sets the framework for water planning and management including provisions for declaring a water resource to be prescribed and the development of water allocation plans.

The Waterworks Act 1932 (South Australia) consolidates certain legislation relating to water supply. The Water Conservation Act 1936 (South Australia) establishes specific legislation concerning the conservation of water. The Sewerage Act 1929 (South Australia) incorporates legislation providing for sewerage and cleansing of the metropolitan area and other places.

Water management plans

The Act enables the water resources of an area to be prescribed. Following prescription, the development of a water allocation plan is required. Water allocation plans set principles and objectives for the management of prescribed water resources through:

  • granting of water licences or other authorisations to extract water 
  • the determination of environmental water provisions
  • management of water-affecting activities through works approvals, site-use approvals and permits.

Water-affecting activities that do not pertain to the taking of water from prescribed water resources are provided for through water-affecting activity permits.

Water allocation plans are prepared by the relevant natural resources management (NRM) board. The South Australian Department for Water coordinates the adoption of water allocation plans by the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, and administers the plans following adoption. The Adelaide region lies within the responsibility of the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges NRM Board. The following water allocation plans apply to the surface water and groundwater resources in the Adelaide region:

The Murray–Darling Basin NRM Board is also relevant to the Adelaide region because it is responsible for developing the Water Allocation Plan for the River Murray Prescribed Watercourse. River Murray water is vital for supplying the water needs of the region.

Surface water


The prescribed surface water areas in the Adelaide region in the 2010–11 year are shown in Figure A1 and included:

  • Barossa Prescribed Water Resources Area – the water allocation plan for this area is operational.
  • Little Para Prescribed Watercourse – this watercourse was prescribed in 1978, but does not have a water allocation plan. This prescribed water resource is included in the Draft Water Allocation Plan for the Western Mount Lofty Ranges, which is currently under development.
  • Western Mount Lofty Ranges Prescribed Water Resources Area – a Notice of Prohibition is in place for this area and a water allocation plan is under development. This plan will cover the prescribed watercourses on the Adelaide Plains including the Gawler, Little Para, Torrens and Onkaparinga prescribed watercourses.

 

Figure A1. Map of surface water management areas in the Adelaide region
Figure A1. Map of surface water management areas in the Adelaide region

Groundwater

Groundwater management areas in the Adelaide region are shown in Figure A2.

The prescribed wells areas with operational water allocation plans during the 2010–11 year were:

  • Barossa Prescribed Water Resources Area
  • McLaren Vale Prescribed Wells Area
  • Northern Adelaide Plains Prescribed Wells Area.

The prescribed wells areas with water allocation plans in development during the 2010–11 year were:

  • Western Mount Lofty Ranges Prescribed Water Resources Area
  • Central Adelaide Plains Prescribed Wells Area – this area will be covered by the proposed Adelaide Plains Prescribed Wells Area water allocation plan, which will also include the Northern Adelaide Plains Prescribed Wells Area
  • Dry Creek Prescribed Wells Area – this area will be covered by the proposed Adelaide Plains Prescribed Wells Area water allocation plan.

Figure A2. Map of groundwater management areas in the Adelaide region
Figure A2. Map of groundwater management areas in the Adelaide region

Environmental water management

Environmental water legislation

Environmental water in the Adelaide region is managed according to the Natural Resources Management Act 2004 (South Australia), which is administered by the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation in South Australia. The Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board is the regulatory agency established to manage the natural resources (including environmental water) in the Adelaide region on behalf of the Minister, together with the South Australian Department for Water, the South Australian Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the South Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regions.

Environmental water provisions

Environmental water provisions within the Adelaide region are managed by the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board and the South Australian Department for Water. The provisions vary for each prescribed area.

 Barossa Prescribed Water Resources Area (PWRA)
  • The Barossa PWRA recommends target streamflow regimes for surface water and low flows to by-pass dam storage on watercourses.
  • Includes limits on the total volume of water captured and stored in farm dams. Construction of farm dams and activities involving groundwater resources are managed through a permit for water-affecting activities. Relevant policies are described in sections two, five and seven of the Barossa PWRA Water Allocation Plan.
McLaren Vale Prescribed Wells Area (PWA)
  • Qualitative requirements for the groundwater-dependent ecosystems within the area can be found in section 2.1.4 of the McLaren Vale PWA Water Allocation Plan.
  • Water users are required to hold a water-affecting activity permit for activities involving groundwater resources.
 Northern Adelaide Plains Prescribed Wells Area (PWA)
  • The Northern Adelaide Plains PWA Water Allocation Plan outlines environmental requirements for the maintenance of important groundwater-dependent ecosystems in the area.
  • Water users are required to hold a water-affecting activity permit for activities involving groundwater resources.

Water allocation plans for the Adelaide Plains and the Western Mount Lofty Ranges Prescribed Water Resources Area are under development. These plans will include environmental water provisions.

Organisations responsible for water management

The organisations responsible for water management in the Adelaide region are presented in Table A1.

Table A1. Organisations responsible for water management in the Adelaide region
Organisation Principal roles Major storages managed by organisation
Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board Water resource management
Water resource monitoring
Water resource allocation
None
South Australian Murray–Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board Water resource management for River Murray water None
South Australian Department for Water
Water resource assessment
Operation of water licensing system
Water resource monitoring
Water policies, legislation and regulation
Assessment of development impact on water resources
None
SA Water Corporation (SA Water) Delivery of potable water, recycled water and wastewater services Kangaroo Creek Reservoir
Little Para Reservoir
Millbrook Reservoir
Mount Bold Reservoir
Myponga Reservoir
South Para Reservoir
Warren Reservoir
Barossa Reservoir
Happy Valley Reservoir
Hope Valley Reservoir
United Water* Operation of water and wastewater infrastructure None
Barossa Infrastructure Limited (BIL) Distribution of water via irrigation scheme including River Murray water and recycled water None
Willunga Basin Water Company (WBWC) Distribution of recycled water via irrigation scheme None
Virginia Pipeline Scheme (VPS) Distribution of recycled water via irrigation scheme None
Various wastewater treatment plant operators (e.g. North Para Environmental Control) Wastewater and recycled water services None
Local government councils (27)
Planning and development for Community wastewater management systems (CWMSs) and stormwater management None
Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) Water quality monitoring None
South Australian Department of Environment and Natural Resources  Water resource monitoring – reporting on wetland health None
South Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regions Water resource monitoring – irrigation water research None

* Allwater took over from United Water on 1 July 2011