The South Australian Government has updated the River Murray Water Allocation Plan, pledging an extra 50 gigalitres of water to holders of irrigation and equivalent licenses in years when allocations are less than 100 per cent.
This comes by reducing the volume of River Murray water set aside for SA Water’s Adelaide licence from 150 GL to 100 GL and relying on the insurance provided by the Adelaide Desalination Plant if needed to provide water to Adelaide.
Minister for Water and the River Murray, Ian Hunter, said, “The aim of this plan is to provide security to all water users and to maintain the River Murray as a resource that must be managed sustainably for all users now and into the future.”.
“Ensuring water flow even during dry years will also help our environment by keeping the Murray Mouth open, flushing salt from the system and providing environmental flows to wetlands and floodplains.”
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, Leon Bignell, said the plan was a win for the South Australian agricultural sector along the Murray River.
“Every drop of water is vital when it comes to keeping permanent plantings alive and helping growers with their annual crop,” Mr Bignell said.
“It was only a short time ago when we were faced with massive restrictions in SA which led us to build the desalination plant for our water security. Drought will return and it is terrific to know we have systems in place ready to deal with a lack of water.”
The plan follows on from the State Government’s $265 million South Australian River Murray Sustainability project which has returned almost 40 GL to the river.
The State Government has guaranteed there will be no impact on water prices paid by SA Water business and household customers.
SA Water will still have a minimum allocation of 77 per cent for Adelaide in extreme dry years, which will limit the risk of restrictions in Adelaide.
The plan was carried out with consultation from primary producers, industry and communities.