Water is an issue crossing environmental, social, political, and economic boundaries.

As the driest state, in the driest inhabited continent on Earth, South Australia has the imperative to lead on water innovation, security and resilience.

We must ensure that water resource management in South Australia ensures access to potable drinking water as a fundamental human right, and that it is available on at sustainable level for non-domestic uses.

The River Murray, our traditional water source for Adelaide, is in a critical state. Unsustainable extraction along its length means not enough water is flowing to the Lower Lakes and Coorong in all but the wettest periods . All forecast climate change scenarios show this will only get worse. Meanwhile, millions of litres of stormwater that falls from our skies are diverted out to sea where silt and nutrient load damages the marine environment. Billions of litres of additional, nutrient-laden wastewater are flushed out to sea every year, killing our seagrasses and negatively impacting other marine life. This water should be diverted, captured, filtered, purified and stored for later reuse. Adelaide’s extensive network of underground aquifers is well suited for this task.

Successive Governments have consistently failed to understand the capacity and sustainability of our water systems and neglected to legislate and advocate effectively for their protection. The Greens know that there are genuine alternatives for a safe and secure water supply that doesn’t cost the earth.

The Greens believe:

  1. The health of catchments, rivers, estuaries and ground water systems underpin the health of all of our communities and environment and the prosperity of agriculture and industry.

  2. Current extraction and water management practices both within SA and upstream place unsustainable pressure on the Murray River.

  3. A changing climate poses new problems for water resource management which affect biodiversity, forests in water catchments, dependent industries, groundwater dependent ecosystems, and urban water users.

  4. Effective water resource management requires the conservation, re-use and recycling of water wherever possible.

  5. Water resource management needs to be integrated with long-term regional planning.

  6. Governments must ensure proper independent monitoring of water quality in the Murray River.

  7. State Government has the responsibility to ensure all communities have safe drinking water, and must ensure water quality is properly monitored.

  8. Water services are an essential service and should be publicly owned and operated

The Greens will:

  1. Implement a metropolitan-wide stormwater harvesting and filtration program in partnership with local governments and SA Water.

  2. Ensure the demand of large-volume industrial and commercial water users is managed using pricing and mandatory efficiency measures for big business.

  3. Provide water concessions to low income households to reduce financial stress.

  4. Introduce water conservation incentives including allowing households to pay off the capital cost of rainwater tanks and other water saving investments through their quarterly water bill.

  5. Require all wastewater to be treated or recycled to eliminate effluent discharges to the marine environment.

  6. Legislate to protect farmland and groundwater resources from polluting industries including conventional mining operations and unconventional gas projects.

  7. Provide assistance to irrigators and large water users to improve efficiency and reduce costs and commit to at least 450GL of water for environmental flows for the River Murray, through improved water efficiency measures for irrigated agriculture and the buyback of water entitlements in severely degraded and over-allocated systems.

  8. Ensure water allocation and licensing practices:

         - are within sustainable extraction limits.
         - promote the equitable use of limited shared resources.
         - are informed by monitoring of the extent of the resource and the health of dependent ecosystems.
         - explicitly recognise Aboriginal cultural values and native title rights, and provide legal recognition of and protection for cultural flows.
         - are transparent and subject to regular independent review and resource assessments.
         - are adaptive and reflect the changing volume of sustainable yield in any given year and consider long term yield trends.

  9. Continue to support the requirement for all new residential developments and additions to install a rainwater tank.

  10. Require that the establishment of new industries that are large consumers of fresh water demonstrate their benefit to the community and the environment and review existing industries that are large consumers of water on that basis.

  11. Reform the laws governing water utilities, so that they have the function of providing water conservation services as well as supplying water.

  12. Require water sensitive urban design principles in subdivision planning, housing, building design, and landscaping.

  13. Investigate and implement ‘third pipe’ plumbing systems and catchments to minimise the entry of nutrient and non-nutrient pollutants in waterways and allow for the reuse of domestic greywater.

(Water Policy as amended by The Greens SA Policy and Campaigns Council April 2021)