Seawater

Seawater

Another key water source for South Australia is the sea. Across the state SA Water operates 12 desalination plants, two of which treat seawater - one at Lonsdale in Adelaide and the other at Penneshaw on Kangaroo Island.

By treating saline groundwater, the other 10 desalination plants provide safe, clean drinking water to some remote Aboriginal communities and the people of Hawker and Leigh Creek in the Flinders Ranges, as well as Oodnadatta and Marla in the state's far north.

To support future population growth on Kangaroo Island, we are currently constructing a new seawater desalination plant at Penneshaw.

A plant is also planned for Eyre Peninsula, to service the long-term drinking water needs of the local community.

The use of desalination plants helps to future proof our supply of safe, clean drinking water in times of drought, by providing water that is climate-independent. It also takes pressure from groundwater, surface water and River Murray supplies.

Protecting the environment and the Gulf of St Vincent

Sustainable design principles have reduced the impact of our facilities – the Adelaide Desalination Plant has one of the smallest carbon footprints of any plant in the world and the independent Environmental Protection Authority confirms operations of the plant do not cause harm to the environment.

Some of the ways we achieve this is by:

  • using a best-in-class desalination process with high-efficiency process equipment
  • using energy from renewable sources
  • harvesting rainwater on-site for use within the plant
  • capturing stormwater and surface water run-off in local wetlands as this process naturally cleans the water before it goes out to sea
  • growing Indigenous plant species and encouraging animals to return to the site
  • using baited remote underwater video cameras to observe and monitor a wide variety of fish and other marine animals living on the artificial reef surrounding the outfall.

We also work together with government and community groups to help protect the Gulf St Vincent.

The Adelaide Desalination Plant

The Adelaide Desalination Plant at Lonsdale is the state’s largest desalination plant with a capacity of 100 gigalitres per year. It is Adelaide’s only climate-independent source of drinking water and has been delivering drinking water since 2011.

Drinking water produced by the Adelaide Desalination Plant is pumped along our 11 kilometre pipeline to storage tanks at our Happy Valley Water Treatment Plant, where it’s blended with treated water from the reservoir. The interconnection of our network pipelines and pump stations gives us the capability to supply drinking water produced at the Adelaide Desalination Plant to people across Adelaide, from Aldinga in the south, right up to Elizabeth in the north.

We regularly host 90-minute tours where you can see the vast site by bus before heading inside to a viewing area in one of the main process buildings. Learn more and book via our education team.


Map of suburbs supplied by the Adelaide Desalination Plant

List of suburbs supplied by the Adelaide Desalination Plant

Adelaide desalination plant’s water production

Water production to date (as at end of April 2024) = approximately 208.3 billion litres.

Water production for last month (April 2024) = 1,138 million litres

Month

Production (megalitres)

April 2024

1,138

March 2024

654

February 2024

445

January 2024

520

December 2023

508

November 2023

426

October 2023

595

September 2023

472

August 2023

0*

July 2023

0*

June 2023

9.5*

May 2023

721

*The Adelaide Desalination Plant is in standby mode during wetter months of the year, when customer demand is typically at its lowest. No water is produced during this period, enabling maintenance work to be done while the facility is in standby mode.

Regional seawater desalination plants

Since 1999, the Penneshaw Desalination Plant has been providing Kangaroo Island with a regular source of desalinated water. The plant can produce 400 kilolitres of drinking water per day.

Construction is also underway on a second desalination plant at Penneshaw, which will supplement the smaller existing nearby facility and Middle River Reservoir.

We expect water from this plant to be delivered to connecting residents and businesses from mid-2024.

For up-to-date project information on the Penneshaw desalination project, visit our Water Talks website.

To provide a drinking water source independent of rainfall and help ensure water security for agriculture, industry and the community for generations to come, a desalination plant is also planned for the Eyre Peninsula.

Our preferred location for this plant is Billy Lights Point, and it will be able to produce up to 5.3 gigalitres of safe, clean drinking water per year, with the ability to scale up if required.

For up-to-date project information on the Eyre Peninsula desalination project, visit our Water Talks website.

  • Major faults

  • Underway

  • Polkinghorns Rd
  • Arthurton
  • 18/06/2020
  • Water Supply On
  • 18/06/2020 03:05 PM - We are attending to an incident in Arthurton 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: 07505663.
  • See all major faults

  • Scheduled works

  • Underway
  • Spruance Rd
  • Elizabeth East
  • 11/06/2021
  • Temporary Supply Interruption
  • Estimated start time and water supply off: 15/06/2021 09:00 AM
    Estimated restore time and water supply back on: 15/06/2021 04:00 PM

    We’re improving your services and undertaking maintenance work in Elizabeth East. 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