Green light for Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme

17 August

The State Government welcomes today’s announcement from the Federal Government of funding support towards a $155.6 million initiative which will create an estimated 3700 jobs and add more than $500 million a year to the State’s economy.

Funding has been secured through the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund (NWIDF) for the Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme (NAIS), which adds to $110 million committed by the State Government earlier this year.

The scheme will deliver an additional 12 gigalitres (GL) a year of high quality recycled water from the Bolivar Wastewater Treatment Plant. This is in an increase in capacity of 60 per cent – suitable for commercial food crops – to help expand the State’s irrigated primary production industry in the Northern Adelaide Plains north of the Gawler River.

SA Water and Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) have partnered to develop the project, known as the Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme (NAIS).

It is one of eight South Australian ‘priority initiatives’ on Infrastructure Australia’s Priority List.

To deliver the additional recycled water, upgrades are required to the Bolivar Wastewater Treatment Plant, as well as a new pipe network north of the Gawler River. Once necessary approvals are in place, construction will take approximately a year and a half. The new infrastructure will be built with the ability to increase capacity to 20 GL a year, as demand and access to overseas markets grow.

An independent economic assessment has identified the extra 12 GL of recycled water a year would create 3700 jobs in the region and add $578 million a year to the state’s economy – growing to 6,000 jobs and $1.1 billion a year when at the full 20 GL capacity.

Premier Jay Weatherill the scheme is about supporting the State’s primary production industry and Adelaide’s northern suburbs by creating jobs and diversifying the local economy.

“The Federal Government has made a valuable contribution to an initiative which will provide economic growth and stability in the Northern Adelaide Plains,” Mr Weatherill said.

“The scheme’s focus is helping South Australia to be competitive in the export market by transforming the region into the national leader in intensive, high-tech food production, as well as drive employment growth and attract new skills and talent into the state.

“The NAIS is a key element of our Northern Economic Plan and aligns with this Government’s economic priority of ‘Premium Food and Wine Produced in our Clean Environment and Exported to the World’.”

River Murray Minister Ian Hunter said the Northern Adelaide Plains is positioned to become a premier intensive food production zone, and we must support and invest in it now to ensure it can meet this potential.

“This includes addressing barriers like access to affordable and high security recycled water supply – something which the NAIS can help achieve,” Mr Hunter said.

“With strong interest in the additional recycled water, SA Water will open the project proposal process in the coming weeks to enable the scheme to facilitate development of the state’s primary production industry, and support the state’s job and growth targets.

To ensure water availability all potential investors, including growers, will be able to participate in the transparent process, with SA Water committed to engagement with industry groups and growers in the region.”

Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Minister Leon Bignell said the State Government was thrilled to be working in partnership with the Federal Government and horticulture industry to expand the Northern Adelaide Plains irrigated food production area.

“Growing the reputation and capacity of the region for premium food production will boost the economic future of the horticulture industry and its communities,” Mr Bignell said.

“The Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme will transform this region into the national leader in intensive, high-tech food production, support existing industry to expand and become more competitive, and drive job creation in Northern Adelaide.

“In 2015-16 our food and wine industries hit a record $18.64 billion in revenue and created 3400 jobs. One in five working South Australians is employed in the agribusiness sector and it’s the engine room of our economy.

“Supporting horticultural food production for the Northern Adelaide Plains is a great way to build on the success of this thriving sector.”

For more information on the Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme visit Primary Industries and Regions SA.