Environmental commitments

Environmental commitments

At SA Water we are focused on sustainable practice and good environmental management. As part of our strategy we monitor and review our environmental performance. We also continue to develop new ways of reducing the impact of our work. The SA Water Environmental Policy guides all of our activities to keep us on track.

Some of our key objectives are to:

  • Effectively manage sewage (wastewater) overflows.
  • Minimise discharges from wastewater treatment plants.
  • Effectively manage biosolids and hazardous wastes.
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Read about how we are involved in catchment and land management.

Environmental Impact Assessments 

SA Water works to identify and assess the potential environmental impacts of its projects and activities. When planning new projects, SA Water completes environmental and heritage assessments. These are used to identify potential impacts on the environment during design and construction.

Climate change

We are committed to responding effectively to climate change. This is reflected in our climate change strategy. The strategy touches on all aspects of our business with a focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, adapting to climate change, and contributing to climate change research.

We have been measuring our greenhouse gas emissions since 2003. Every year, we report our rate of greenhouse gas emissions to the Federal Government. This data helps us to manage our greenhouse gas emissions to stay on track to meet our reduction target. That target is to have no greater than 40% of 1990s greenhouse gas emission levels by 31 December 2050.

Adapting to climate change is important for the future

SA Water works to identify ways our water supplies and infrastructure could be at risk because of climate change. To maintain a sustainable water supply for South Australia, we make sure we are prepared for and can adapt to change in our environment.

Supplying water from recycled and desalination sources are just two ways we are future-proofing your water.

For more information, please contact us.

Greenhouse gas emissions

Performance Summary 2017-18

Net tonnes of greenhouse gas emitted tonnes (CO2-e)


364,737 1,2


319,277 1,2

1. The above values are a sum of Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.

2. Scope 3 emissions are determined based on the following thresholds:

  • PBOs and PBGs: (i) For solid fuels – 20 tonnes; or, (ii) For gaseous fuel – 13,000 cubic meters; or, (iii) For liquid fuel – 15 kilolitres.
  • Electricity: ≥0.5MW or 500kVa and producing >100,000 kWh per year.
  • Fuel: ≥ 5,000 litres fuel/year
  • Materials: >500 tonnes of construction materials or ongoing chemical use

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 33.3 per cent renewable energy from self-generated renewable energy sources.

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

Environmental performance

Environment Incidents

An environmental incident is an accident, spill, emergency or a near miss that causes or threatens to cause environmental harm.

An environmental incident may be classified as a Type 1, Type 2 or Type 3.

Type 1 Environmental Incidents are incidents that cause or threaten to cause serious or material environmental harm.

Type 2 Environmental Incidents are incidents that cause or could cause environmental harm but are not of high impact or on a wide scale.

Type 3 environmental incidents have potential to cause environmental nuisance but are minor in nature and require no or minimal remedial action to be taken. Type 3 incidents are not required to be reported to EPA.

Type 1 and 2 incidents are reportable to EPA.

The majority of environmental incidents are caused by:

- accidental spillages from the sewerage system that impact on water courses; or

- the uncontrolled discharge of chlorinated water that impact on water courses.

There are a range of criteria that differentiate Type 1 and Type 2 incidents that are agreed by EPA and Department of Health and Wellbeing based on the volume of discharge and the location of the impacted environment.

Total Type 1 and 2 Environmental Incidents over the past 5 years







Total Type 1 Environmental Incidents






Total Type 2 Environmental Incidents






Environmental Incidents that result in emissions to the environment

The failure or blockage of mains and pump stations may result in treated water or untreated effluent entering watercourses causing environmental harm. Environmental incidents of this nature are recorded and reported to the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) where required. Details of these incidents can be seen in the table below.

Environmental Wastewater Incident Type











Wastewater network overflows and spills entering water courses or stormwater systems (including wastewater pumping stations)






Overflows from wastewater pumping stations in Adelaide (including SA Power Network failures)






Overflows from wastewater pumping stations in country (including SA Power Network failures)






Environmental Water Incident Type

Mains water discharges (unplanned) (Types 1 and 2)






Environmental compliance

Compliance with Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Licence Conditions 2017-18





Metropolitan and country wastewater treatment EPA licences



Target not achieved

Abrasive blasting EPA licences



Achieved target

Treated water transfer EPA licence



Achieved target

Production and disposal of listed waste EPA licences



Achieved target

Discharge of stormwater to underground aquifers EPA licences



Achieved Target

Non-compliance with EPA Licence Conditions

In May 2018 non-compliance was reported against Whyalla Waste Water Treatment Plant for contravening the odour prevention condition of the licence. An expiation notice of $1060.00 was issued to SA Water.

Environment Protection Orders

No Environment Protection Orders (EPOs) were issued to SA Water between 1 July 2017 and 30 June 2018.

Legal actions

On the 4th 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.

On the 9th November 2017, the EPA issued SA Water with a formal warning alleging a breach of the Environment Protection Act 1993. This followed notification of a Type 1 incident at the Gumeracha WWTP in October, after approximately 1ML of treated effluent was discharged to the environment.

In March 2018, the EPA issued SA Water with a civil penalty of $1000.00 following a breach of the Environment Protection Act 1993, resulting from the discharge of raw wastewater from the Glenelg WWTP into the Patawalonga River on 4th March 2016.

Asbestos cement management

SA Water operates a large water network across South Australia – of which around 42 per cent is made of cement pipes that contains bonded, non-friable asbestos. Asbestos cement pipes are widely used for water supply throughout Australia and across the world. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and National Health and Medical Research Council’s Australian Drinking Water Guidelines confirm presence of asbestos cement pipes within water networks does not pose a public health risk. More information can be found in our fact sheet.

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  • Major faults

  • Underway

  • Zabica Av
  • Woodcroft
  • 03/04/2020
  • Water Supply On
  • 03/04/2020 12:56 PM - We are attending to an incident in Woodcroft with no interruption to the water supply. The safety of our crews and customers comes first, and we always aim to minimise inconvenience by restoring services as quickly as we can. Reference Number WO: 07394123.
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  • Scheduled works

  • Underway
  • Angle Vale Rd
  • Angle Vale
  • 05/04/2020
  • Temporary Supply Interruption
  • Estimated start time and water supply off: 08/04/2020 09:00 PM
    Estimated restore time and water supply back on: 09/04/2020 06:00 AM

    We’re improving your services and undertaking maintenance work in Angle Vale. Sometimes our crews need to temporarily interrupt the water supply to our customers and/or manage traffic while they are working. Temporary traffic management may remain in place until reinstatement of the impacted road is complete. We always aim to minimise inconvenience by restoring services as safely and quickly as we can.

  • See all scheduled works