Waterproofing SA

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

The River Murray, our traditional water source for Adelaide, is in a critical state. Unsustainable extraction means not enough water is flowing to the Lower lakes and Coorong in dry periods. All forecasted 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. This water should be diverted, captured, filtered, purified and stored for later reuse. Adelaide’s extensive network of underground aquifers is perfect for this task.

The Greens know that there are genuine alternatives for a safe and secure water supply that doesn’t cost the earth.

The Greens believe that:

  • Current extraction and water management practices both within SA and upstream place unsustainable pressure on the Murray River 
  • A changing climate poses new problems for water resource management which affects biodiversity, forests in water catchments, dependent industries, groundwater dependant ecosystems and urban water users
  • More needs to be done to conserve, re-use and recycle water 
  • Water resource management needs to be integrated with long-term regional planning
  • There needs to be greater investment in proper, independent monitoring of water quality in the Murray River 
  • Water services are an essential service and should be publicly owned

The Greens will:

  • Implement a metropolitan-wide stormwater harvesting and filtration program in partnership with local governments and SA Water;
  • Manage the demand of large-volume industrial and commercial water users using pricing and mandatory efficiency measures for big business;
  • Ensure that water concessions to low income households are targeted to those most in need;
  • Introduce water conservation incentives including allowing households to pay off the capital cost of rain water tanks and other water saving investments through their quarterly water bill;
  • Eliminate effluent discharges to the marine environment by recycling all waste water; 
  • Protect farmland and groundwater resources from polluting industries including conventional mining operations, coal seam gas and other ‘fracking’ projects; and
  • Provide assistance to irrigators and large water users to improve efficiency and reduce costs and commit to 450GL of water for environmental flows, through improved water efficiency measures for irrigated agriculture and the buyback of water entitlements in severely degraded and over-allocated systems.
  • Introduce legislation to support and protect a Lower Lakes and Coorong Trust 
  • Promote the use of rainwater tanks as water sources
  • 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 
  • Reform the laws governing water utilities, so that they have the function of providing water conservation services as well as supplying water
  • Require water sensitive urban design principles in subdivision planning, housing and building design 
  • Develop systems to recycle and re-use wastewater 
  • Manage drainage systems and catchments to minimise the entry of nutrient and non-nutrient pollutants in waterways
  • Improve stormwater capture and use
  • Promote ‘third pipe’ plumbing systems in new buildings which allow for the reuse of domestic greywater 
  • Review current water allocation procedures to allow use for agricultural, domestic and industrial purposes whilst ensuring that there is sufficient water allocated to maintain riverine, wetland and coastal ecosystem value
  • Work to ensure that all water use planning – both current and future – considers the 8 interrelated elements of water management:
    • Water access entitlements and planning framework
    • Water markets and trading
    • Best practice water pricingIntegrated management of water for environmental and public benefit
    • Water resource accounting
    • Knowledge and capacity building
    • Community partnerships and adjustments
    • Urban water reforms