Adelaide
Administration

Surface water and groundwater

Water legislation

Water resources, including watercourses in the Adelaide region, are managed according to South Australia's Natural Resources Management Act 2004 (the Act).

The Act aims to promote sustainable and integrated management of the State's natural resources and to make provision for the protection of the State's natural resources. 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 Water Industry Act 2012 (South Australia) consolidates legislation relating to water supply, establishes specific legislation concerning the conservation of water and incorporates legislation providing for sewerage and cleansing of the metropolitan area and other places. It was adopted on 5 April 2012 and effectively replaced the Waterworks Act 1932 (South Australia), the Water Conservation Act 1936 (South Australia) and the Sewerage Act 1929 (South Australia).

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 of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (prior to 1 July 2012, 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:

Other prescribed water resources within the Adelaide region do not have an operational WAP.

The Murray–Darling Basin NRM Board is also relevant to the Adelaide region because it is responsible for developing the WAP 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 2011–12 year are shown in Figure A1 and included:

  • Barossa PWRA—the water allocation plan for this area is operational. Water licences (water access entitlements) have been issued in that area.
  • 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 PWRA—a notice of prohibition is in place for this area and a WAP 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 2011–12 year were:

  • Barossa PWRA
  • McLaren Vale PWA
  • Northern Adelaide Plains PWA.

The PWAs with WAP in development during the 2011–12 year were:

  • Western Mount Lofty Ranges PWRA
  • Central Adelaide Plains PWA—this area will be covered by the proposed Adelaide Plains PWA WAP, which will also include the Northern Adelaide Plains PWA
  • Dry Creek PWA— this area will be covered by the proposed Adelaide Plains PWA WAP. Water licences were issued in this area during the 2011–12 year that replaced the pre-existing notice of prohibition.

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 South Australia's Natural Resources Management Act 2004 (the Act), which is administered by the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation in South Australia. The South Australian Department of Environment, Water and natural Resources is the principal regulatory agency established to manage environmental water in the Adelaide region on behalf of the Minister. The Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board (NRMB) has an active role with respect to the management of natural resources within the Adelaide region as per section 29 of the Act.

SA Water (the South Australian Water Corporation) does not currently have statutory obligations to deliver environmental flows in the rivers of the Adelaide region. This situation will change when the water allocation plan for the Western Mount Lofty Ranges PWRA commences. Release of environmental flows downstream of the infrastructure operated by SA Water will be governed by the rules in the water allocation plan.

Environmental water provisions

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

Barossa PWRA
  • The Barossa PWRA recommends target streamflow regimes for surface water and low flows to by-pass dam storage on watercourses.
  • The PWRA 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 2, 5 and 7 of the Barossa PWRA WAP.
McLaren Vale PWA
  • Qualitative requirements for the groundwater-dependent ecosystems within the area can be found in section 2.1.4 of the McLaren Vale PWA WAP.
  • Water users are required to hold a water-affecting activity permit for activities involving groundwater resources.
Northern Adelaide Plains PWA
  • The Northern Adelaide Plains PWA WAP 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.

WAPs for the Adelaide Plains and the Western Mount Lofty Ranges PWRA are under development. These plans will include environmental water provisions.

SA Water does release environmental flow on a voluntary basis (for more information, refer to the Environmental water note).

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 NRMB Water resource management and planning None
Water resource monitoring
Water resource allocation and planning
South Australian Murray–Darling Basin NRMB Water resource planning and management for River Murray water None
South Australian Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (prior to 1 July 2012, the South Australian Department for Water) Water resource assessment, assessment of development impact on water resources None
Implementation of Natural Resources Management Plans, including Water Allocation Plans
Water resource monitoring
Water policies, legislation and regulation
Maintain Register of water licences, water access entitlements and water allocations
Water resource monitoring–reporting on wetland health
SA Water (South Australian Water Corporation)
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
Allwater Joint Venture Operation and maintenance of water and wastewater infrastructure None
Adelaide Aqua Pty Ltd Operation and maintenance of the Adelaide Desalination Plant 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
Water Reticulation Systems Virginia (WRSV) / Water Infrastructure Group (WIG) 1 Distribution of recycled water via the Virginia Pipeline Scheme (VPS) 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 Primary Industries and Regions Water resource monitoring–irrigation water research None
1 WRSV is a subsidiary company of WIG