Northern Water Supply - Business Case

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Consultation has concluded. Thanks for your contributions.

UPDATE: PROJECT TO FOCUS ON CAPE HARDY SITE OPTION

For more information, please see our newsfeed.

If you require anything further, or wish to register for project updates as they become available, please contact the Project Team on 8429 4650 or northernwatersupply@sa.gov.au

This Northern Water Supply - Business Case site will soon be archived and a new YourSAy page opened to continue the conversation around Northern Water and the Cape Hardy site.

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 an approximately 600km 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.   

Three sites were identified as potentially feasible. These are shown below. For more information about the how a study site will be chosen, see our site selection fact sheet

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 news feed 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 study site survey 

You can provide feedback on the current survey until  29th September 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 northernwatersupply@sa.gov.auYou can also stay connected by clicking the Stay Informed button on this page. 

UPDATE: PROJECT TO FOCUS ON CAPE HARDY SITE OPTION

For more information, please see our newsfeed.

If you require anything further, or wish to register for project updates as they become available, please contact the Project Team on 8429 4650 or northernwatersupply@sa.gov.au

This Northern Water Supply - Business Case site will soon be archived and a new YourSAy page opened to continue the conversation around Northern Water and the Cape Hardy site.

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 an approximately 600km 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.   

Three sites were identified as potentially feasible. These are shown below. For more information about the how a study site will be chosen, see our site selection fact sheet

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 news feed 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 study site survey 

You can provide feedback on the current survey until  29th September 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 northernwatersupply@sa.gov.auYou can also stay connected by clicking the Stay Informed button on this page. 

Consultation has concluded. Thanks for your contributions.

  • Multi-Criteria Analysis Outcome

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    On Tuesday 31 January 2023 Northern Water Supply project team together with a range of stakeholders met to undertake the second of two Multi-Criteria Analysis (MCA) workshops. The group was led though a scoring process by independent consultants. The included criteria was developed with the combined group in the first MCA workshop in December 2022. Stakeholders representing environmental conservation, marine and fishing industry, local Government, landscape boards and regional development participated in both MCA workshops.

    The Mullaquana site received the highest score in the MCA process followed by Point Lowly with Crag Point being the lowest scoring site across most sensitivity scenarios. This means Mullaquana was found to be the best performing site of the three considered when scored against the MCA criteria. This will be documented in the business case. Other factors such as more detailed engineering, cost and commercial considerations will be developed to help inform the government’s decision on whether to further progress the Northern Water Supply project beyond the current phase and if so on which site.



    We are now seeking community feedback on the outcome of the MCA workshop. The MCA result along with community feedback on the outcome will be presented to the South Australian Government as part of the NWS - Business Case in March 2023.

    We encourage you to provide feedback about the MCA outcome either by completing the Short Survey here or by emailing the project team directly at northernwatersupply@sa.gov.au


  • Supporting the transition to net-zero

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    What is net zero?

    ‘Net zero emissions’ refers to achieving an overall balance between the greenhouse gas emissions produced and those taken out of the atmosphere, so no more greenhouse gas is added to the atmosphere in any given year than is taken out (Climate Council.org.au).

    Why is it important to get to net zero?

    Greenhouse gas emissions trap warmth in our atmosphere and are a significant contributor to climate change. To avoid the worst impacts of climate change we need to keep the global temperature increase to 1.5o C above pre-industrial levels. It is currently at 1.1o C above these levels and as anthropogenic (human-caused) greenhouse gas emissions continue, so we expect temperatures to continue to increase.

    How can we get to net zero?

    Energy sources such as coal, gas and oil create around three quarters of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, so if we can replace these with renewable energy sources, such as wind or solar, this will help reduce these emissions. We can then convert this renewable energy into electricity or into green hydrogen (see below) allowing us to capture, transport and store renewable energy so it can be used in place of oil, coal and gas.

    We are already seeing an increase in the popularity of electric cars, with the electricity they use provided by greener energy sources. However, there are many more opportunities to replace non-renewable energy sources with more sustainable alternatives, and green economies need to be supported as they work to reduce emissions and avoid further climate change.

    For more information about South Australia’s role more generally in the transition to a green economy see here

    How will the Northern Water Supply project support the transition to net zero?

    Supporting green hydrogen production

    Hydrogen is produced by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen. If the power used to produce this split is sourced from renewable energy, then it is called green hydrogen. This green hydrogen can then be used to replace fossil fuels currently used in industries which can’t simply switch to electricity, such as long-distance heavy transport and manufacturing, thereby reducing their emissions.

    As well as being a fuel, green hydrogen can also be used to generate electricity. Hydrogen plants are often designed to make hydrogen while there is excess energy being generated from renewable resources. This hydrogen is then used to generate electricity when renewable sources are not generating, improving stability in the electricity grid for homes and businesses. In this way, hydrogen enables us to capture and store energy for later use like a battery does.

    Green hydrogen production in South Australia requires access to new and high quality water supplies. The area around Whyalla has been identified as a world class site for hydrogen production and the Northern Water Supply (NWS) project is intending to provide a sustainable source of water to this emerging green industry in the Upper Spencer Gulf.

    Enabling mining of copper reserves

    Copper is vital to achieving net zero. It is used in electric vehicles, batteries, and charging stations as well as being critical for the development of wind and solar power generation. There is no known substitute for copper, and supplies are low across the world due to the increase in demand over recent years. S&P Global* have stated that Unless massive new (copper) supply comes online in a timely way, the goal of Net-Zero Emissions by 2050 will be short-circuited and remain out of reach.

    South Australia is home to Olympic Dam, which is the fourth largest copper resource in the world, in addition to four of Australia’s most significant copper discoveries in the past 10 years, three of which are in the Upper Spencer Gulf/Far North region.

    The extraction of copper from the far north of South Australia is currently limited by, amongst other things, access to water. Not only is water required for a range of activities during the mining process itself, it is also required to support the accommodation for mining staff to be able to work in these remote areas.

    The water currently used for copper extraction is mostly sourced from groundwater resources, including the Great Artesian Basin and there are concerns over the sustainability of these sources and the cultural and environmental implications of its use.

    The NWS project will provide a new water source for this key industry, further supporting regional development and crucially, Australia’s work towards net zero.

    Providing support for new renewable energy generation in the Whyalla area

    The NWS project is committed to being powered by renewable energy. As such NWS will require a reliable, secure and local source of this energy. This requirement will support the case for new renewable energy generation in the region, increasing regional job options for young people in sustainable industries.

    If you would like any more information on how NWS will contribute to the net zero transition, please call our team on (08) 8429 4650 or e-mail us at northernwatersupply@sa.gov.au

    *S&P Global, 2022, The Future of Copper: will the looming gap short-circuit the energy transition p9.


  • Recent Cultural Heritage Survey

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    The NWS team is privileged to work together with Traditional Owners as we continue our investigations for the business case. We completed an initial Cultural Heritage survey on the traditional lands of the Kokatha people in December and look forward to further opportunities to get on Country.

  • Stakeholder Reference Group - recent meeting

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    Participants from the Site Analysis Workshop held in October 2022 were invited to attend a follow up meeting with members of the Northern Water Supply Project Team. The meeting was held online due to people being in various locations. Presentations were delivered from team members including an overview and update on the following:

    • Recent project activities
    • Outcomes of the Site Analysis Workshop and the Multi-Criteria Analysis (MCA)
    • Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) progress
    • Spencer Gulf Sustainable Development Forum update
    • Recent and planned stakeholder engagement

    The Stakeholder Reference Group agreed to meet regularly and will have significant input into the NWS - Business Case. Initial discussions about future meeting topics and the development of Terms of Reference was also discussed and will be addressed at the next meeting in February 2023. Meeting minutes as well as the presentation from the Project Team can be found in the Document Library.


  • Happy New Year!

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    The NWS Team is back on deck and gearing up for a big 2023 with the NWS - Business Case submission happening THIS year.  

    Thanks for all the survey submissions to date. We value community feedback, local insights and interest in the project, so we thank you for taking the time to contribute to the project.  

    If you haven’t completed a survey, now’s the time. The Survey is open until 28 February, however feedback received before 30 January will also feed into the Multi-Criteria Analysis (MCA) which is being undertaken as part of the process to identify the recommended study site. So the sooner you complete the survey the better!

    Complete the survey here.

    What’s an MCA??  

    A MULTI-CRITERIA ANALYSIS: Multi-Criteria Analysis (MCA) is a formal process used to compare options on a range of different factors. The criteria and measures we are using for the NWS - Business Case MCA have been developed in consultation with subject matter experts and key stakeholders including representatives from environmental organisations, fisheries, industry and the community. For more information about the study site selection process see the Site Selection Fact Sheet.

    *Please note, all survey submissions and feedback will be included in the Stakeholder Engagement Feedback Report and submitted to Cabinet as part of the Business Case Submission. 

    As always for all things NWS - Business Case updates keep visiting this page.

    The NWS - Business Case Team

  • Study site feedback survey - Now Open!

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    supporting image

    The Northern Water Supply project team is partway through a rigorous assessment process to select a recommended study site for inclusion in the business case. The final study site decision will be made by the State Government when it considers the business case.

    Selecting where a new plant could potentially be built is critical. There are construction and maintenance costs to consider, as well as ensuring the location allows for access to a suitable source of water and where treated water can get to the regions that need it. We also need to look at impacts to the land and marine environments, cultural and social impacts and how resilient the site will be to further changes in our climate.

    The recommended study site selection process involves three main steps

    Step 1: Identify regions where a suitable site may be located

    Step 2: Screens sites in the regions to determine a list of potentially feasible sites for the NWS project.

    Step 3: Select the best site from the short-listed options to recommend as the study site in the business case. (We are here now)

    The map below shows the outcome from steps 1 and 2

    A decision about the study site will be made by the State Government as part of its overall decision on the business case. It is important to note that there will be no final site selected until all engineering and environmental studies have been completed.

    The community is invited to provide feedback on the project and the potentially feasible sites. You can do this by:

    For more information about the study site selection process see the Study Site Selection fact sheet in the document library.





  • Site Feedback Survey - coming soon

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    UPDATE now live see above.

    In the coming days we will launch a new survey and close our current survey.

    We will be seeking specific feedback on the three (3) shortlisted sites. Your feedback is important and will feed into Northern Water Supply - Business Case.

    For now you can:

    1. Subscribe for project updates by clicking the stay informed button above
    2. Register for Your Say so we can notify you when the Site Feedback Survey goes live
    3. Complete the current survey seeking general feedback on the Northern Water Supply - Business Case
    4. Visit the frequently asked questions and document library to find out more about the project

    Thanks for your interest in the project.

    The Northern Water Project Team

  • Desalination and potential marine environmental impacts - New Report Uploaded

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    We have recently added a new report and report summary to the document library.

    Gillanders BM, J Stockbridge (2022) Desalination and potential marine environmental impacts with a focus on Spencer Gulf. Report to Infrastructure South Australia. The University of Adelaide, Adelaide. 47 pages.

    This report pulls together a wide range of existing reports to establish the latest knowledge on potential impacts to the marine environment that could result from a desalination plant in the Spencer Gulf. It also identifies where there are gaps which need to be filled through additional in-depth studies once a study site is selected.

    Click on the document names to be taken directly to them.

    Desalination and potential marine environmental impacts with a focus on Spencer Gulf. Gillanders BM, J Stockbridge (2022)

    Report Summary - Desalination and potential marine environmental impacts with a focus on Spencer Gulf. Gillanders BM, J Stockbridge (2022)

    *Please note the report summary is an independent summary of the contents of the report by Gillanders BM, J Stockbridge (2022). While all care has been taken to ensure accuracy the summary is not the work of Gillanders, BM and J Stockbridge.

  • Workshop outcomes uploaded

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    A short summary of what we heard at the Stakeholder Workshop on 26 October 2022, together with a detailed record of what was said on the day, has been uploaded in the document library.

    Workshop Summary - NWS -Site Analysis Workshop 29 October 2022.pdf

    Meeting Record - NWS - Site Analysis Workshop - 26 October 2022 (draft).pdf

    Meeting record (APPENDICES) - NWS - Site Analysis Workshop - 26 October 2022 (draft).pdf

  • 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.