SA Water to deliver additional actions to protect EP water security


SA Water to deliver additional actions to protect EP water security

While proceeding with plans for a desalination plant at Billy Lights Point on the Eyre Peninsula, SA Water is undertaking an urgent review of its broader water security response plan, to protect drinking water supplies for the region and vital groundwater sources.

On advice from the Eyre Peninsula Landscape Board, a review of the Water Allocation Plan (WAP) for the Southern Basins will significantly reduce the licensed volume of water that SA Water can source from the Uley South Basin – the region’s current primary source of drinking water – from mid-2026. The Board has begun this review, with amendments to the WAP to take effect from 1 July 2026.

Following this advice, SA Water will rapidly review its plan to prepare for all scenarios, including what actions may need to be taken in response to this proposed licensed water reduction or if there are significant delays to the utility’s proposed desalination plant.

SA Water’s General Manager of Customer, Community and Engagement David Coombe said a climate-independent desalination plant is critical to augment supply from an under stress Uley South Basin and deliver a long-term drinking water solution.

“We are working towards the plant supplying water by mid-2026, but as a responsible utility, we need to be responding to the advice of the Eyre Peninsula Landscape Board and taking action now to maintain a level of water supply to the region, until the plant is operational,” David said.

“Initially, this will involve working closely with the community and key local stakeholders to provide advice on how to be water efficient and gaining a better understanding of current water use by Eyre Peninsula businesses and industries, with consideration to introduce staged water restrictions for primary production, industrial, business and residential customers.

“We don’t take the introduction of water restrictions lightly, but the criticality of this proposed licensed water reduction means this measure will need to be seriously considered if there are significant delays to the construction of the desalination plant.”

Modelling by the Department for Environment and Water (DEW) shows that if water extraction from Uley South Basin continues at current rates, there is an increasing risk of further environmental decline and irreversible damage from saltwater intrusion.

“This means we would no longer be able to use the Basin to supply water to the region, significantly impacting the 35,000 local customers who rely on it,” David said.

“As a licensed water user of Uley South, we are working together with DEW and the Eyre Peninsula Landscape Board to monitor the Basin’s health and ensure it can continue to be an important contributor to local water supply in the long term, even after the desalination plant is operating.

“Additionally, to help ensure the long-term health of Lincoln Basin and Uley Wanilla Lens, we are seeking to proactively minimise our pumping from them, with a view to retiring them from use as soon as possible. These aquifers are currently used to supplement supply from Uley South during periods of high water demand.

“This response aligns with DEW analysis, which shows the two groundwater sources are also under significant stress, and subsequent advice from the Board that the volume of water we are allocated to extract from these aquifers is likely to be restricted, potentially sooner than mid-2026.”

Following the advice of the Eyre Peninsula Landscape Board, SA Water will complete a review of its broader water security response plan with key local stakeholders and the community in coming weeks.





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