Expanded irrigation area to create 3700 jobs for Northern Adelaide

Monday 10 April 2017

The State Government has committed to invest $110 million to help expand the Northern Adelaide Plains irrigated food production area, which would create 3700 jobs in and around Adelaide's northern suburbs and add more than $500 million a year to the State's economy.

Premier Jay Weatherill, joined by Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Leon Bignell and Minister for Water Ian Hunter, today announced the State Government has submitted an application to the Federal Government's National Water Infrastructure Development Fund (NWIDF) to help fund the project.

If the application is successful, the State Government will invest $110 million in the project - through SA Water - and is seeking a $45.6 million funding commitment from the Federal Government.

A combined $155.6 million would deliver an additional 12 gigalitres (GL) a year of recycled water suitable for agricultural use from the Bolivar Waste Water Treatment Plant - an increase of 60 per cent - to help expand the State's irrigated agriculture industry.

New infrastructure would be built to deliver this recycled water to industry, with capacity to increase to 20 GL a year as demand and access to interstate and overseas markets grow.

The State Government will continue to work with proponents, industry groups and growers in the region to ensure a fair, equitable and transparent process, and determine how they can participate in the additional recycled water allocation which delivers the greatest state benefit.

The project would also reduce impacts on the environment by making better use of recycled wastewater.


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

In November 2016, $2.5 million was committed by the Australian Government for the South Australian Government to undertake a feasibility study and develop a business case for the NAIS, to test market demand and viability in preparation for the NWIDF application.

The application was submitted in March 2017, with the outcome expected to be announced in mid-2017.

Subject to receiving the funding, construction of the NAIS will begin later this year, with the intention of recycled water flowing to irrigators from December 2018.

Quotes attributable to Premier Jay Weatherill

The Northern Adelaide Plains is already home to one of the largest covered vegetable cropping regions in Australia.

We must invest in the region now to ensure the horticulture industry has access to the large volumes of affordable, high security water it needs to increase production and attract new investment.

An independent economic assessment has identified the extra 12 GL of recycled water a year would create 3,700 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.

Quotes attributable to Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Minister Leon Bignell

The State Government wants to help secure large volumes of low-cost, high security water to lift the capacity and potential of the Northern Adelaide Plains region, for the long term viability of its food industries and the social and economic future of its communities.

With the right support and infrastructure, the region will be able to play a key role in achieving the objectives of the state's Premium Food and Wine Produced in our Clean Environment and Exported to the World economic priority.

We are addressing barriers like access to affordable, reliable water to help transform the region into the national leader in intensive, high-tech food production for export.

We are also committed to supporting existing industry in the region to accelerate and expand high quality food production.

One in five working South Australians is employed in the agribusiness sector and it is the engine room of our economy.

As Fisheries Minister, I am also delighted about the benefits this investment will have on the water in Gulf St Vincent. Our 277,000 recreational fishers will benefit through improved marine habitat.

I've got a good working relationship with Federal Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce and Assistant Minister, Anne Ruston and I'm hopeful the Federal Government will make a valuable contribution to this scheme which will benefit South Australia.

Quotes attributable to Water Minister Ian Hunter

Economic development projects like this are vital to ensuring our communities in this region can enjoy a prosperous future.

As part of the NAIS, recycled water from Adelaide's largest waste water treatment plant at Bolivar will be piped north of the Gawler River, enabling a major new irrigation area to be established.

I look forward to the industry benefiting from this investment and the state reaping the rewards of irrigating this premium food growing region with recycled water.

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