Expansion plans for northern irrigation

Expansion plans for northern irrigation


Horticulture
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The proposed Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme is expected to cost upwards of $150 million.

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THE proposed Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme is expected to cost upwards of $150 million, with funding being sourced from the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund as part of the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.

The money will go towards upgrading Bolivar’s wastewater treatment plant capacity and providing necessary pipeline infrastructure.

SA Water has already listed three parties for the tender, which will take on the existing Virginia Pipeline Scheme and the new projects to expand the infrastructure across the region.

Hortex Alliance executive officer Bryan Robertson said the recently-announced feasibility study would look at the scheme’s benefits to the state, what services would be required and the timelines involved.

“Horticulture from the Northern Adelaide Plains feeds $340m into the state’s economy – we could increase that to $550m, but we need the right infrastructure,” he said.

“SA is number two in the world for using recycled water for intensive production systems, Israel is number one, but we could really compete with the right infrastructure.

“It is also estimated that the scheme will create 3500-plus jobs, which will hopefully reduce the impact of recent processing and factory closures in the region.

“The scheme idea has been around for a long time, so it has been good that more recently community, industries and government have come together to look at how it can happen more seriously.

“The federal agriculture department has also funded a lot of work already and is keen to start seeing the benefits.”

Horticulture Coalition of South Australia chairwoman Susie Green said the provision of additional and reliable water supply to the northern Adelaide Plains would provide tremendous opportunities for growers to expand on their production and also for new investment into the region. 

“This security of supply should provide opportunities for SA growers to strengthen their supply into domestic markets as will as develop channels into new export markets,” she said. 

“The Horticulture Coalition of SA is pleased the federal Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper recognises the necessity of water for food production, in particular horticulture, and is particularly pleased to see funds being directed into SA.”

Mr Robertson hoped the study would be finalised by the end of the year.

“Industry has already done a lot of the work, so hopefully state and federal governments can actually get together to make this finally happen,” he said.

The feasibility study funding was announced by Senator Anne Ruston at the Virginia Horticulture Centre in late May, when the Coalition also committing $1.2m in funding for a feasibility study into establishing an irrigation industry in the Mid and Upper North regions of SA.

The study will investigate the viability of taking unused water from three existing reservoirs, totalling 15gL, in the Mid North for use in high-value agriculture.

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