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Southern Fleurieu

Water:  Sustainable water resource management

High Priority

What is this issue

Increasing pressure on water resources and change in hydrology affecting aquatic habitats including swamps.

Impacts of the issue

  • Decline in water quality and quantity
  • Change to flow regime impacting the condition of swamp vegetation and long-term sustainability


  • Population growth, development
  • Increase in dams
  • Increased demand from domestic, intensive agriculture and forestry plantations uses


  • Need higher water quality for some uses. A barrier if water needs to be re-used to have sufficient quantity of supply
  • Powers of developers in the current political sphere
  • Government legislation (i.e. supporting development regardless of pressures and resource limitations)
  • Building codes that conflict with local government ideals
  • Limitations of capacity to store large volumes of stormwater in winter for later use
  • Irrigators that are already very efficient cannot access grants through existing programs
  • Stock and domestic water extraction whilst accounted for in Water Allocation Plans, slowly continues to increase with population growth
  • With decreasing property sizes, some have been left with very large dams unnecessarily extracting water from the system

Climate impacts and adaptation needs

Rainfall and water availability is expected to decline under climate change, further increasing pressure on water resources. Water Resource Plans incorporate climate change consideration, as required under the Basin Plan. Actions to improve the efficiency of water use will continue to provide benefit under climate change.

Who plays a role

  • Building Industry
  • Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources
  • Developers
  • Innovators
  • Irrigators
  • Landholders
  • Local Government (Mount Barker District Council, Alexandrina Council, District Council of Yankalilla, City of Victor Harbor)
  • Research and development providers
  • SA Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board
  • SA Water
  • State and Australian Governments

Strategies and Actions

Undertake water management planning to ensure the sustainable use of water resources

  • Implement the Water Allocation Plan to deliver water to the environment, and maintain the ecological function, resilience and biodiversity values of water-dependent ecosystems, and support water sharing between consumptive users and limiting impacts of new water taking
  • Identify potential water use efficiencies, targeting large water users
  • Monitor water resource use and ecosystem condition to ensure the objectives of Water Allocation Plans are being met
  • Support the use of citizen science in monitoring of water flow and quality and ecosystems

Promote the sustainable use of water resources in urban and high growth areas

  • Promote household water savings, such as water capture, re-use, water-saving tools, and low water use gardens)
  • Identify opportunities to re-use water at local scales, e.g. domestic re-use, recreational areas, industrial uses
  • Implement Water Sensitive Urban Design principles in new developments (e.g. increase permeable surfaces)
  • Embed Water Sensitive Urban Design principles into Development Planning amendments and codes
  • Increase tree cover in urban environments to reduce evaporation and demands on supplies, whilst increasing rainfall infiltration rates
  • Calculate and consider the positive or negative impact of domestic rainwater capture on total water extraction from the environment

Improve our understanding of water supply limitations and opportunities

  • Build on water modelling and research into local hydrology (i.e. vegetation impacts, extraction, re-use, return of flows, stormwater impacts)
  • Increase the use of water modelling by local government in planning processes
  • Encourage an active water market that allows water to move to the highest value uses and is available to a diverse range of enterprises (subject to the rules in the Water Allocation Plan)

Improve outcomes for the environment and water dependant ecosystems by applying additional measures

  • Increase community understanding of pressures on water resources (including irrigation and dams), the benefits of metering, and opportunities from new technologies in improving water management
  • Support additional measures to improve the condition of water dependent ecosystems, such as restricting stock access, weed control and restoration activities