ADP: Operations Overview

ADP: Operations Overview

This page provides detailed information on the ADP. For a general overview and information on environmental sustainability of the ADP, visit the Adelaide Desalination Plant page.

Water security

The Adelaide Desalination Plant (ADP) is Adelaide’s only climate-independent source of water. It was built to provide improved water security and an insurance policy against future droughts.

  • The ADP is made up of two identical 50 gigalitre (GL) per annum process plants, known as Separable Portion 1 and Separable Portion 2.
  • It’s capable of producing 100 GL per annum.
  • Its maximum output is 300 megalitres (ML) per day (Adelaide’s peak daily demand in summer can reach 900 ML, but the average daily use is around 400 ML).
  • The plant’s output can be controlled by 10 per cent increments from 10 to 100 per cent. This ensures the plant only produces the water that is needed.

Project Cost

As one of the largest and most complex projects in South Australia’s history, the ADP required significant funding to ensure it could successfully meet Adelaide’s future water requirements. This cost was shared by the South Australian and Federal governments.

  • The approved budget for the ADP was $1.824 billion.
  • Commonwealth funding contributed $328 million. This was reliant on the ADP being carbon neutral over its lifetime. To continue to achieve this, 100 per cent of plant energy needs are being supplied by renewable sources.
  • Overall, the budget funded four key aspects:
    • Desalination plant
    • Marine works – seawater intake and outfall infrastructure including tunnels, pump station, intake structures and outfall energy recovery turbine and diffusers
    • Transfer pipeline system (TPS) – pump station and transfer pipeline to deliver desalinated water into the metropolitan distribution network
    • SA Power Networks substation – to deliver power to the plant and pump station.

Project timeline

  • February 2009 – ADP Design, Construct and Operate Contract signed with Adelaide Aqua.
  • July 2011 – first desalinated water produced.
  • October 2011 – first drinking water produced.
  • December 2012 – project handover to SA Water’s Operations & Maintenance team.
  • December 2014 – 24 month proving period completed.
  • January 2016 – year four of 20-year operations and maintenance contract begins.

Operating Considerations

The cost and complexities involved in running the ADP require a number of critical ongoing considerations throughout the life-cycle of the plant.

Environmental considerations

  • Significant marine and environmental studies were undertaken during the planning, construction, commissioning and operations phases of the project. This demonstrated compliance with strict licence conditions issued by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA).
  • Results from these studies were submitted to the EPA who concluded there was no evidence of environmental impact that can be attributable to the construction or operation of the ADP.
  • On this basis, a revised EPA licence was issued in March 2015.

Asset life-cycle considerations

  • Aurecon Consulting provided independent analysis to determine the optimal operating regime of the plant based on effective asset stewardship.
  • Their analysis found the plant incurs a more consistent asset value over time and lower depreciation while in operation compared to zero production.
  • Minimum or low capacity operation enables SA Water to achieve this advantage in a cost-efficient manner. It also helps to keep the plant in an optimal state of readiness to increase production.

Alternative transfers

  • The 8 GL of drinking water produced per year by operating the ADP at minimum production levels replaces raw water that would otherwise be pumped from the River Murray and treated at SA Water’s Happy Valley Water Treatment Plant.

  • Major faults

  • Underway

  • Kilmington Rd
  • Davoren Park
  • 17/10/2017
  • Water Off
  • Last Updated: 17/10/2017 08:15 PM - We are on-site responding to an incident in Davoren Park. Water may not be available in the surrounding area until 17/10/2017 11:45 PM. Traffic restrictions may also apply. Reference Number WO: 06066180.
  • See all major faults

  • Scheduled works

  • Underway
  • Park Tce
  • Stansbury
  • 17/10/2017
  • Supply Interruption
  • Estimated start time (water off): 19/10/2017 09:00 AM
    Estimated restore time (water back on): 19/10/2017 12:00 PM

    We’re committed to improving your services and are undertaking maintenance work in Stansbury. Water supply in the surrounding area may be impacted during the above times. Traffic restrictions may also apply.


  • See all scheduled works