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.

South Australia's Water Industry Act 2012 consolidates legislation relating to water supply throughout South Australia to deliver a more efficient, competitive and innovative industry. 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). The Water Industry Act 2012 facilitates planning in connection with water demand and supply and aims to regulate the water industry through the regulation of prices, customer service standards, and technical standards, and by providing performance monitoring of the water industry. The key objectives of the legislation are outlined in Part 1 (3) of the Water Industry Act 2012.

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 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 applied to the surface water and groundwater resources in the Adelaide region during the 2012–13 year:

Other prescribed water resources within the Adelaide region did not have an operational water allocation plan during the 2012–13 year, including:

  • Western Mount Lofty Ranges PWRA: the Western Mount Lofty Ranges PWRA Water Allocation Plan was adopted on 17 September 2013 under the Natural Resources Management Act 2004. This water allocation plan includes the Little Para Prescribed Watercourse, which currently has licences issued, but is not managed under an operational water allocation plan. 
  • Central Adelaide Plains PWA: this area will be covered by the proposed Adelaide Plains PWA water allocation plan, which will also include the Northern Adelaide Plains PWA
  • Dry Creek PWA: this area will be covered by the proposed Adelaide Plains PWA water allocation plan. Water licences were issued in this area during the 2011–12 year that replaced the pre-existing notice of prohibition.
The Murray–Darling Basin NRM Board is also relevant to the Adelaide region because it is responsible for developing the River Murray Prescribed Watercourse Water Allocation Plan. River Murray water is vital for supplying the water needs of the Adelaide region.
Surface water

The prescribed surface water areas in the Adelaide region in the 2012–13 year are shown in Figure A1.

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.


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 has an active role with respect to the management of natural resources within the Adelaide region as per Section 29 of the Act.

Section 76(4)(aab) of the Act requires a water allocation plan to include:

  • an assessment of the capacity of the water resource to meet environmental water requirements
  • information about the water that is to be set aside for the environment
  • a statement of the environmental outcomes expected to be delivered on account of the provision of environmental water under the plan.

Environmental water provisions

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

Barossa PWRA
  • The Barossa PWRA Water Allocation Plan recommends target streamflow regimes for surface water and low flows to by-pass dam storage on watercourses.
  • The plan includes limits on the total volume of water captured and stored in off-channel water storages. Construction of off-channel water storages 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 Water Allocation Plan.
McLaren Vale PWA
  • The requirements, with respect to water quantity and quality, of 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 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.
Western Mount Lofty Ranges PWRA

The Western Mount Lofty Ranges PWRA Water Allocation Plan was adopted on 17 September 2013 under the Act  and was therefore not applicable to the 2012–13 year. Nevertheless, the plan includes a number of environmental water provisions (outlined in sections 2.4 and 2.5 of the plan), including:

  • provision of water to the Fleurieu and Central Hills wetlands by virtue of a surface water extraction limit
  • for watercourses across the plains downstream of reservoirs, managing the impacts of water extractions through the use of threshold rates
  • participation by SA Water in an environmental flow trial with the objective of establishing, timing, frequency, duration and governance of environmental flows downstream of public supply reservoirs, up to 16,500 ML per year.

A water allocation plan for the Central Adelaide PWA and Northern Adelaide Plains PWA is under development. This plan will include environmental water provisions.

Cultural water management

Water use for cultural benefit is considered a basic right in the Adelaide region. These rights are described in the Act and the Native Title Act 1983 (Cwth). 

A 'notice of authorisation to take water for stock and domestic purposes and for native title purposes' (South Australian Government 2005) authorises the taking of water from the Western Mount Lofty Ranges PWRA by a person who is a native title holder. The notice authorises that 'the taking is for the purpose of satisfying that person's personal, domestic, cultural, spiritual, or non-commercial communal needs where they
are doing so in the exercise or enjoyment of their native title rights and interests'.

The Western Mount Lofty Ranges PWRA Water Allocation Plan was adopted on 17 September 2013 under the Act. This plan includes a specific section on Aboriginal water needs. The plan outlines that 'Access to, and use of, water from prescribed water resources by Aboriginal people for the purpose of social, cultural, or spiritual use is exempt from licensing, provided they do not stop, impede or divert the flow of water'.

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 NRM Board water resource planning, allocation and management  none
water resource monitoring
South Australian Murray–Darling Basin NRM Board water resource planning, allocation and management for River Murray water none
South Australian Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources water resource assessments and assesments 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 and reporting on wetland health
SA Water (South Australian Water Corporation) management of surface water storages and weirs,  and delivery of potable water, recycled water and wastewater services Barossa Reservoir
Happy Valley Reservoir
Hope Valley Reservoir
Kangaroo Creek Reservoir
Little Para Reservoir
Millbrook Reservoir
Mount Bold Reservoir
Myponga Reservoir
Onkaparinga Summit Reservoir
South Para Reservoir
Warren Reservoir
Allwater Joint Venture management and maintenance of Adelaide's water and wastewater network and infrastructure none
Adelaide Aqua Pty Ltd operation and maintenance of the Adelaide Desalination Plant none
Barossa Infrastructure Limited distribution of water throughout the Barossa region via irrigation scheme, including River Murray water and recycled water none
Willunga Basin Water Company distribution of recycled water throughout the Mclaren Vale, Willunga and Sellicks regions via irrigation scheme none
Water Reticulation Systems Virginia/Water Infrastructure Group distribution of recycled water via the Virginia Pipeline 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 and stormwater management none
Environmental Protection Authority water quality monitoring none
South Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regions water resource monitoring and irrigation water research none