Maintaining a healthy catchment

Reservoir catchment

Reservoir catchment 2016-17ActualForecastVariance
Natural flows this month/Metro (ML)322 689113 561 +209 127

Inflows for 2016-17 were almost three times the average forecasted scenarios and twice the annual demand of metropolitan Adelaide. 

The approach was to utilise the North South Interconnection Systems Project (NSISP), and transfer more metro Adelaide demand through the Happy Valley WTP to tackle the large inflows through the Onkaparinga catchment.

Catchment management
During 2016-17, our efforts focused on a number of catchment (raw) water quality projects critical to our business, including Cryptosporidium and nutrient investigations in our key metropolitan water supply systems. We investigated the magnitude and timing of pollution entering our reservoirs from our multi-use supply catchments and the natural ‘treatment’ the catchments and reservoirs can provide.

The goal is to get a better understanding of how our natural water delivery system work and how we optimise our water treatment based on the natural treatment capacity of the catchments.

Drinking water quality protection starts in the supply catchments. Maintaining septic or ‘onsite waste water  management systems’ (OWMS) in those residential areas in our supply catchments which are not connected to a sewerage network, forms a critical part in curbing microbial risks in our water supply. Some of the microbes, such as Cryptosporidium, need special treatment.

Around 48 per cent of private septic tanks may fail in the Mount Lofty Ranges, delivering microbial contamination to our drinking water supply catchments. We continue to contribute significantly to the waste control program which assists councils to work with landholders to maintain their residential systems. We need to ensure that councils do the best they can to help residents maintain their septic tanks, to avoid over investment in expensive treatment further downstream.

As part of our continual Cryptosporidium risk assessments across all water quality barriers of our key drinking water systems, we will be investigating Cryptosporidium infectivity and speciation in our catchments associated with water supply to Anstey Hill, Happy Valley and Myponga WTPs throughout 2017-18. This includes intensive Cryptosporidium monitoring during high stream flows, and assessing the magnitude of the ‘natural treatment’ the reservoir can provide on the water’s way to our water treatment plants.

Land and fire management
We continued to implement our extensive annual bushfire prevention maintenance regime across our landholdings to manage the everpresent bushfire risk. We collaborated with other agencies (DEWNR, Country Fire Service and  Forestry SA) on bushfire prevention, suppression and prescribed burning under our agreements. We are an active participant in the Heads of Agencies (HoA) collaborative government efforts to keep South Australian communities safe and protect our native vegetation and water resources.

By controlling the vegetation on SA Water land, we are confident that we can better protect our land in the case of a bushfire and prevent significant impacts on our natural vegetation cover. The result is we do not have to cope with additional, more expensive, reatment of the catchment water draining from burnt lands.

A further focus was continuing to work collaboratively with government and the fishing community of South Australia,  to enable recreational fishing in up to five offline reservoirs.

Environmental compliance

Compliance with Environment Protection Authority Licence Conditions 2016-17

Metropolitan and country wastewater treatment EPA
100%100%Achieved target
Abrasive blasting EPA licences100%100%Achieved target
Treated water transfer EPA licence100%100%Achieved target
Production and disposal of listed waste EPA licences100%100%Achieved target
Discharge of stormwater to underground aquifers EPA licences100%97.9%Target not achieved

Non-compliance with EPA Licence Conditions
A non-compliance was reported in April 2017 against the Barker Inlet Stormwater Scheme. An exceedance of iron was identified, however details of the exceedance were not submitted to the EPA within three working days as outlined in the licence conditions.

Environment Protection Orders
Nil Environment Protection Orders were issued to SA Water between 1 July 2016 and 30 June 2017.

Formal warning
On 4 July 2017, the EPA issued SA Water with a formal warning alleging a breach of the Environment Protection Act 1993. This followed notification of a Priority Type 1 incident at the Christies Beach WWTP in May, after 6ML of un-disinfected wastewater was discharged to the environment.

Climate change commitment

Our Climate Change Sector Agreement with the SA Government formalises our ongoing commitment to responding to the challenges of climate change by working with our stakeholders and the State Government, while continuing to play a leading role in providing sustainable water services to the community.  

A key commitment in the agreement is to progress climate change adaptation, both for SA Water and the wider community. We have been working with local councils and other key stakeholders to progress regional adaptation plans, and looking at the climate risks relating to our service delivery as well as opportunities to contribute to liveability of the state, such as provision of recycled water for state growth.

Greenhouse gas emissions


Net tonnes of greenhouse gas emitted tonnes (CO2-e)TargetAchieved
Based on 2016-17 Target371 447265 015

*The inventory is based on financial year performance and includes some estimates.

We are continuing to meet our annual greenhouse gas reduction targets which track how we are progressing toward our long term target of emissions no greater than 40 per cent of 1990 levels by 2050. We are also continuing to achieve the target of 20 per cent renewable energy from self-generated and purchased accredited renewable energy sources. We are currently reviewing our targets in light of the State Government target of zero net emissions by 2050.

Emissions reductions initiatives include:

  • energy efficiency measures
  • increasing renewable energy generation from hydro-electric plants and biogas combustion
  • carbon sequestered through our bio-sequestration plantings.

We are also exploring opportunities to participate in the Emissions Reduction Fund administered by the Clean Energy Regulator through opportunities for biodiverse carbon plantings and energy management.

The Climate Change Sector Agreement can be viewed at sa.gov.au

Becoming a market participant

Enabling us to directly administer electricity market charges in the National Electricity Market, was a major project throughout 2016-17. This required us to register as a market participant, establish information systems and source specialised resources through collaboration with Finance, Human Resources, IT, Operations and Department of Treasury and Finance. It was identified early that we needed to create an agile approach in order to deliver the new information systems and ensure timelines could be achieved.

On 14 June 2017, we achieved registration with Australian Energy Market Operator as a direct market participant and began the transfer of our 1 800 electricity connections from our existing electricity intermediary. In 2017-18 we will see the completion of site transfers from the electricity intermediary to SA Water.

Annual operating expenditure savings of approximately $0.5 million are anticipated, reducing our regulated operating expenditure and contributing to reduced bills for our water and used water customers.