11 Mar 2022
by KATHRYN BERMINGHAM
A $500,000 study will test the waters of a business case for a new reservoir at McLaren Vale that could hold up to 1350 megalites of recycled water.
The federal government will fund $470,000 of the $500,000 inquiry into the viability of the reservoir, it was announced on Thursday.
The state government and other partners will contribute the remaining $30,000.
If it proceeds, the McLaren Vale Irrigation Water Security project could deliver about 750 megalitres in additional water allocations to be used for irrigation.
The inquiry, expected to be complete by later this year, will also look into potential upgrades to the Willunga Basin Water’s existing recycled water network, which would increase its capacity.
Federal Infrastructure and Regional Development Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said the water security project could increase economic activity in the area by up to $100m and support up to 300 jobs.
State Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister David Basham welcomed the funding, and said water was a critical resource for the state’s farmers and the economy.
“The business case is another important step towards greater water access in regional South Australia and builds on similar work being undertaken at the Barossa, Eden and Clare valleys and the successful Coolanie Water Scheme, which is delivering positive results for farmers on the Eyre Peninsula,” he said.
The business case for the project will include demand studies, network modelling, concept design, site investigations and geotechnical analysis.
State Environment and Water Minister David Speirs said long-term water security was a priority for the government.
“We know that water is one of our most valuable resources, which is not only required for critical human needs but it drives economic growth to create jobs as well as supporting a healthy environment,” he said.
South Australian Senator Andrew McLachlan said the new commitment was in addition to $1.8m to investigate the future construction of new water infrastructure projects in the Eden and Clare valleys.
“It is essential that we continue to invest in innovative projects that improve water access and security and build resilience to drought as a result of climate change,” he said.