Delivering a healthy working Basin for Australia: Northern Adelaide, South Australia

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Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, 2011

Program: Water Smart Australia
Funding recipient: Playford, Salisbury and Tea Tree Gully Councils
Water for the Future funding: $38 million
Project commencement: June 2007
Project completed

Three councils in the north of Adelaide are working together to achieve sustainability through innovation.

In 2007, the South Australian councils of Playford, Salisbury and Tea Tree Gully joined together to undertake the Waterproofing Northern Adelaide project, funded in part through the Australian Government’s Water Smart Australia program. The project aims to integrate stormwater, groundwater, and reclaimed wastewater systems in the Northern Adelaide Plains region.

Conventional water storage methods are too expensive, due to high urban land prices, so the project treated stormwater in constructed wetlands and then stored the cleansed water in a Northern Adelaide Plains aquifer about 200 metres below ground.

The collection of water normally occurs during the winter months, which see the highest rainfall. This water is drawn on in the summer months and distributed to water users, including schools, sports grounds and factories, through a network of purple pipes.

The project consists of water harvesting, capital works and a water distribution system in each Council area. Significant infrastructure including several kilometres of distribution mains and numerous community groundwater bores to deliver recycled stormwater, reclaimed effluent and groundwater to the local community.

“The early stages of the project concentrated on harvesting stormwater,” Bruce Naumann, Manager Water Systems, Salisbury Council said.

“We’re now at a point where we can focus on how to get that water back to the community.”

The Councils are now expanding their distribution networks to keep up with urban growth and link to the wider region.

“It is important we have the right infrastructure in place to meet the needs of our growing communities— this project is fundamental to our region’s future and our capacity to deal with urban growth,” Bruce said.

“The Waterproofing Northern Adelaide project shows the practicality of urban stormwater reuse, the system is a base for ongoing expansion and a model for others to use.”

The Councils are working closely with land developers across the region to install recycled water pipes for land owners to connect to and use.

The project aims to save more than eight billion litres of drinking water a year, normally used for open space irrigation within the three Council areas.

This will ensure 300,000 residents of the Northern Adelaide region have ‘fit for purpose’ water available for non-potable uses, and a reduced reliance on the River Murray.

“This will effectively reduce our dependence on drinking water by up to 20 per cent,” added Bruce.

Other benefits of the project include improved protection of properties and infrastructure from flooding, and cleaner sustained environmental flows in the main waterways. Harvested stormwater will provide more affordable water for community, industrial and residential users. The distribution pipes will supply reserves, ovals, schools, factories and houses with recycled stormwater, benefiting communities and recreational facilities.

Government’s at all levels are working with Basin communities to achieve a healthy river system that supports strong and viable communities. Central to this is the strengthened involvement of local communities in the design and roll out of government programs.

Stebonheath Park, Andrews Farm (Wetland and ASR scheme) – City of Playford

Solandra wetland and aquifer storage and recovery scheme City of Tea Tree Gully