Northern Water Supply - Business Case

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Exploring a new secure and sustainable water supply for the future.

What's being decided?

The Northern Water Supply (NWS) project is one of a number of projects being considered for the Upper Spencer Gulf as part of the State Government’s plan to decarbonise local industry, provide for future jobs and economic development, and position the region as a global leader in the net-zero economy.

As part of the NWS, the South Australian Government is assessing the potential for a new and sustainable water supply for the far north and Upper Spencer Gulf. The project aims to sustainably support regional communities and industries now and into the future. 

This assessment takes the form of a business case which will evaluate the environmental, social and economic benefits and impacts of building a seawater desalination plant in the region, along with a 450km pipeline which will transport the desalinated water to communities and industries across the region, including the emerging Hydrogen industry.  

We are currently looking at where might be most suitable to conduct in-depth studies on the feasibility of building a desalination plant and your views are a critical part of identifying issues/risks and opportunities/benefits that should be considered as part of the assessment process. This will in turn help inform the government’s decision on whether to further progress the Northern Water Supply project beyond the current phase.

Background

For our northern regional areas to thrive, we need a secure water supply. Taking more water from the River Murray or Great Artesian Basin is not a reliable or sustainable long-term option so a new solution is needed. 

The Northern Water Supply project business case is assessing whether a desalination plant and pipelines would provide that solution. Some of the anticipated benefits include: 

  • providing a sustainable and climate resilient water supply for northern SA 

  • reducing environmental pressures from the use of River Murray, Great Artesian Basin and other groundwater sources  

  • supporting the emerging Hydrogen industry 

  • unlocking a globally significant copper resource, required for the transition to net zero

  • supporting local and global industry decarbonisation

  • making regional and remote communities greener and more liveable

We are currently working with a range of stakeholders representing the environment, marine, mining, energy, and other local industries and regional communities to select a preferred study site from a short list of potentially economically and environmentally feasible options. More information on how we developed this short list will be uploaded soon. 

We are interested in hearing from you about the issues you feel should be considered as part of the assessment process.

For more information: 

  • View the newsfeed below for updates as the project progresses

Get involved

We are interested in hearing what issues and/or opportunities you would like to see considered as part of this assessment process. You can get involved by:

  • telling us what elements of this project are most important to you by taking the survey

You can provide feedback until 15 February 2023.

What are the next steps?

All feedback will be reviewed by our project engagement team and included in the business case which is due to be provided to the state and federal governments in early 2023.

A decision on whether this project will proceed past the business case, and if so, which site will be used as the study site for further in-depth investigation, is expected by mid-2023.  

Project updates will be provided on this page via the news feed below or you can register for regular updates by contacting our team at northerwatersupply@sa.gov.auYou can also stay connected by clicking the Stay Informed button on this page.

Exploring a new secure and sustainable water supply for the future.

What's being decided?

The Northern Water Supply (NWS) project is one of a number of projects being considered for the Upper Spencer Gulf as part of the State Government’s plan to decarbonise local industry, provide for future jobs and economic development, and position the region as a global leader in the net-zero economy.

As part of the NWS, the South Australian Government is assessing the potential for a new and sustainable water supply for the far north and Upper Spencer Gulf. The project aims to sustainably support regional communities and industries now and into the future. 

This assessment takes the form of a business case which will evaluate the environmental, social and economic benefits and impacts of building a seawater desalination plant in the region, along with a 450km pipeline which will transport the desalinated water to communities and industries across the region, including the emerging Hydrogen industry.  

We are currently looking at where might be most suitable to conduct in-depth studies on the feasibility of building a desalination plant and your views are a critical part of identifying issues/risks and opportunities/benefits that should be considered as part of the assessment process. This will in turn help inform the government’s decision on whether to further progress the Northern Water Supply project beyond the current phase.

Background

For our northern regional areas to thrive, we need a secure water supply. Taking more water from the River Murray or Great Artesian Basin is not a reliable or sustainable long-term option so a new solution is needed. 

The Northern Water Supply project business case is assessing whether a desalination plant and pipelines would provide that solution. Some of the anticipated benefits include: 

  • providing a sustainable and climate resilient water supply for northern SA 

  • reducing environmental pressures from the use of River Murray, Great Artesian Basin and other groundwater sources  

  • supporting the emerging Hydrogen industry 

  • unlocking a globally significant copper resource, required for the transition to net zero

  • supporting local and global industry decarbonisation

  • making regional and remote communities greener and more liveable

We are currently working with a range of stakeholders representing the environment, marine, mining, energy, and other local industries and regional communities to select a preferred study site from a short list of potentially economically and environmentally feasible options. More information on how we developed this short list will be uploaded soon. 

We are interested in hearing from you about the issues you feel should be considered as part of the assessment process.

For more information: 

  • View the newsfeed below for updates as the project progresses

Get involved

We are interested in hearing what issues and/or opportunities you would like to see considered as part of this assessment process. You can get involved by:

  • telling us what elements of this project are most important to you by taking the survey

You can provide feedback until 15 February 2023.

What are the next steps?

All feedback will be reviewed by our project engagement team and included in the business case which is due to be provided to the state and federal governments in early 2023.

A decision on whether this project will proceed past the business case, and if so, which site will be used as the study site for further in-depth investigation, is expected by mid-2023.  

Project updates will be provided on this page via the news feed below or you can register for regular updates by contacting our team at northerwatersupply@sa.gov.auYou can also stay connected by clicking the Stay Informed button on this page.

  • Latest Update - Northern Water Supply

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    Stakeholder Analysis Workshop Summary

    On Wednesday 26 October 2022, 22 key stakeholders representing 18 different organisations met in Whyalla, to discuss the Northern Water Supply project. Participants represented a wide range of interest groups and organisations including Traditional Owners, environmental groups, fisheries, community members, landholders, Local Government, state government and industry.

    A thorough project update was provided including presentations from Whyalla City Council, the Project team and South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI). A summary of each presentation is provided below and the presentations can be downloaded here.

    Following the presentations, participants were invited to take part in a range of activities where they could provide input to the planning and assessment processes for the project.

    Activity 1 related to the development of criteria to be used in a multi-criteria analysis (MCA) which will be used to inform the selection of a preferred study site to be the focus of the business case and detailed environmental studies. The first part of the activity was to review the high-level themes and related criteria which would be used to evaluate the potential sites. For the second part, participants selected their own area of interest and undertook a deeper dive, looking at what the desired outcome might look like for that criterion and what performance measures could be used in the assessment process.

    Activity 2 provided the opportunity for participants, working in these subject interest groups, to identify what they consider the most important aspects to be considered in the project assessment process, and identify how these should be addressed.

    In Activity 3 the whole group identified what they believed good project outcomes would look like for the marine environment, community, economic and environment generally. A world café model was used which allowed participants to contribute to all themes.


    Presentation summary

    Justin Commons - Whyalla City Council

    Justin set the scene by explaining the benefits that the project would bring to Whyalla and the Upper Spencer Gulf region. He explained that his vision is for Whyalla and the Upper Spencer Gulf to be a hub for environmentally sustainable development and Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) investment.

    Mike Morgan - Project Director, Infrastructure SA

    Mike provided a project overview including how we got to where we are now and what the next steps are for the project.

    Craig Headon - Principal Engineer

    Craig presented on desalination trends worldwide, desalination technology and technical considerations for this project.

    Dr Mark Doubell - SARDI Oceanography

    Mark spoke about the research that SARDI has undertaken to inform the project to date. He also provided information about the oceanographic movements in the Gulf and where there are still gaps in our knowledge.

    Lots of information was captured on the day and the team is in the process of finalising a summary of what we heard. This will be uploaded here in early December 2022.

Page last updated: 05 Dec 2022, 10:12 PM