Water Matters - Issue 44, December 2017

​​​​​​​​​​​To receive an email notification when future editions are made available, subscribe to Water Matters.

Water investment to boost jobs and farms in South Australia

The existing Bolivar Wastewater Treatment Plant which will be expanded under the project.​ ​Image courtesy of SA Water.

The Australian Government will boost funding for a major new project to deliver more recycled water for farming in the Northern Adelaide Plains.

The Australian Government has announced it will co-fund the South Australian Government’s $155.6 million Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme (NAIS) by contributing $45.6 million to modernise and expand the existing Bolivar Wastewater Treatment Plant and associated managed aquifer recharge scheme.

Construction will start early next year and is scheduled for completion in 2021. A dedicated network of around 57 kilometres of pressurised pipeline will be built to supply treated water directly to businesses that sign up.

NAIS is one of eight South Australian priorities on Australia’s Infrastructure Priority List—designed to guide decision-makers about priority investments that will underpin Australia’s continuing prosperity.

Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Assistant Secretary Richard McLoughlin said once completed, the Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme would deliver up to 12 gigalitres of reclaimed water each year suitable for commercial food production.

Continue reading about Water investment to boost jobs and farms in South Australia

​Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme map.
Image courtesy of SA Water.
Larger image of map.

‘NAIS will support a new irrigated agriculture precinct which will include intensive greenhouse production systems for horticulture,’ Mr McLoughlin said.

‘The scheme will expand irrigated agricultural production by more than 1000 hectares, including up to 684 hectares of broadacre irrigated agriculture and more than 500 hectares of greenhouses,’ he said.

NAIS is expected to deliver significant economic benefits for South Australia including around 3,700 jobs, $1.1 billion in private sector investment and a gross state product boost of more than $500 million annually.

NAIS received the Australian Government funding through a competitive grants process via the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund.

Find out more about NAIS on the SA Water website.


Topping up our water WELS with eBay cooperation


Online shopping giant eBay and the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) team have joined forces to clean up water efficiency labelling online.

As part of a joint compliance crackdown with the WELS team, the online trader has removed more than 3000 non-compliant WELS product listings by ten eBay sellers from its Australian site.

For their part, WELS inspectors have been monitoring the online sales and reporting non-compliant listings to eBay.

According to Paul Morris, WELS regulator at the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, the operation is a great example of the government and private sectors cooperating for the common good.

‘Cleaning up online sales is now a key part of the WELS program, and this major action by eBay clearly shows the strategy is working,’ Mr Morris said.

Continue reading about topping up our water WELS with eBay cooperation

‘While most conventional retailers do the right thing, online sellers, particularly overseas ones selling into the Australian market, have had a very poor level of compliance with our labelling requirements.

‘eBay’s contribution to supporting the WELS compliance efforts lead the industry and set an example of effective collaboration between the private sector and the department, rarely seen both offline and online,’ Mr Morris said.

Some of these sellers are now working with WELS to clean up their listings and so they can resume sales—with Australian consumers in turn getting the information they need to choose products that save them water and money.

It’s estimated that using water efficient products will by 2021 help Australia to reduce domestic water use by more than 100,000 megalitres each year, and save Australians more than a billion dollars through reduced water and energy bills.

To find out more, visit the revamped Water Rating website which is making it easier for suppliers of WELS products to comply with the scheme.

Australia and Indonesia strengthen water ties

Signing their countries’ MoU in Perth in September were
Indonesia’s Minister of National Development Planning,
Professor Bambang Brodjonegoro,
and Australia’s then Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce

Australia and Indonesia are working more closely to improve how water resources are managed for their communities.

Two recent examples of the increasing cooperation were:

  • the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between governments in Perth in September
  • Australia’s hosting of 27 water professionals from Indonesia in November.

The MoU with Indonesia is the fourth agreement by Australia for water cooperation with a major trading partner following agreements with India, the US and China.

The Australian and Indonesian governments have agreed under the MoU to cooperate on water resource management; agriculture and irrigation; and water supply and sanitation.

The countries will share information about how to:

  • better manage catchment systems
  • develop efficient agricultural irrigation
  • provide water for communities, industry and the environment.

In a tangible sign of collaboration and exchange, 27 water professionals from Indonesia’s government and water utility sectors visited Australia for two weeks in November 2017, under a fellowship led by Australia’s International Water Centre and Griffith University and funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Continue reading about Australia and Indonesia strengthen water ties

At the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources in Canberra in November, Urban Water and Competition Policy director Adam Sincock spoke to the group about challenges and reforms for Australia’s $160 billion urban water sector.

Mr Sincock told the group that Australia’s urban water sector faced pressures from population growth, climate change, community expectations, price sensitivity, and the need to fund new and existing infrastructure.

‘Population growth has been significantly concentrated into urban areas, and Australia’s urban water sector faces increased financial constraints to build and renew infrastructure,’ he said.

The collaboration between Indonesia and Australia on water recognises that despite vast differences in geography and population, our countries share many of the same challenges—not least the ever-increasing demands placed on limited water.

To keep updated on international issues relating to agriculture and trade, visit Agricultural Trade Matters a quarterly update from the department.

Lower recovery targets for water from Northern Basin

Bengalla Reserve in the Northern Basin.
Image by Arthur Mostead courtesy Department of the Environment and Energy

A major review of the Murray Darling’s Northern Basin has culminated in an expected lowering of the water recovery target for the Northern Basin to 320 GL a year, down from the current 390 GL.

This revised target forms the crux of the Basin Plan Amendment Instrument 2017 (No. 1), which commenced in law on 14 November 2017*​.

The Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) recommended lowering the target by 70 GL annually after a comprehensive review over four years, considering evidence from hundreds of community members as well as from environmental, Aboriginal, industry and community stakeholders.

Analysis by MDBA found that the reduction in water recovery should save about 200 jobs in irrigation-dependent communities, while still delivering environmental benefits identified under the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

In support of the lower recovery target, governments in the Basin have committed to environmental measures to improve water management. These include safeguarding environmental flows and removing constraints to their delivery into important areas such as the Gwydir wetlands.

Basin governments are also continuing to find ways to improve waterway access for Aboriginal people and to better engage them in water planning and management.

Other changes in the Basin Plan amendment include a decrease in three groundwater area water recovery targets, and technical improvements to support implementation of the Basin Plan.

For more on the amendments, visit the Murray Darling Basin Authority website.

* Subordinate legislation (e.g. a regulation) is generally subject to a ‘disallowance period’ to enable its scrutiny by both Houses of Parliament. This amendment is currently subject to a disallowance motion raised by a Senator during the 15-sitting-day Senate disallowance period, and the Senate will have until 14 February 2018 to consider and respond.

Do you know how much water your storage really holds?

Getting a good measure of stored water is critical but not always easy to do.

That’s one of the key messa​ges from a new video, 'On-farm storage: surveying to determine accurate volumes', which suggests some practical ways to address the challenge.

‘You can’t manage what you don’t measure’ is ones of its underpinning messages.

​ ​

According to Jim Purcell of Aquatech Consulting, who appears in the video, most irrigators have an idea how much water their storage holds—but that might not be enough to last the season.

‘Measuring is very important because not only can you measure what you’ve got left to use, you can predict what the evaporation losses will be til the end of the season,’ he says. ‘That’s water in the dam that you can’t use.’

Suggestions in the video include using a GPS survey to measure the volume of a storage, and installing an electronic storage meter or gauge board to ascertain how much water remains in storage at any point in the season.

The video and an accompanying fact sheet have been produced by Irrigation Australia.

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
Thanks for your feedback.
Thanks! Your feedback has been submitted.

We aren't able to respond to your individual comments or questions.
To contact us directly phone us or submit an online inquiry

Please verify that you are not a robot.