We need it to drink. We cook with it, clean with it and bathe in it. We produce food thanks to water and our industries rely on it to manufacture life ’s luxuries and necessities.
Without water, we wouldn ’t exist.
Water Use in South Australia
Garden & Outdoor 40%
Bath & Shower 20%
But less than 3% of the world ’s water is fresh - and most of this is frozen in ice caps or out of reach of humans.
Australia is the driest inhabited continent on earth - but per capita we are one of the world ’s largest consumers of water.
South Australia is the driest state in Australia
Taking into account all uses of fresh water, the average Australian uses more than 1 million litres (1 megalitre) of water per year. The water is mainly used for irrigation (about 75%), with urban and industrial use accounting for about 20%.
How much is 1 megalitre (ML)?
Many people find it difficult to comprehend one megalitre of water. One megalitre is approximately equivalent to:
• an olympic-sized swimming pool;
• five and a half standard rainwater tanks - a 40,000 gallon rainwater tank contains approximately 180,000 litres or 0.18 of a megalitre
South Australia’s Challenge
Supplying potable - or ‘f it to drink ’ - water in South Australia is a challenging task. F aced with a widely dispersed population in one of the driest inhabited places on Earth, SA Water has had to develop significant expertise in the management and transportation of water over vast distances.
The availability of a clean, plentiful and easily accessible water supply is something we all take for granted. So it ’s hard to imagine life when every drop of water had to be carted or carried to each household.
When European settlers arrived in South Australia in the 1830s, finding reliable water supplies for the new settlement of Adelaide was of critical importance. The River Torrens - stretching from the Adelaide Hills across the plain to the coast - soon became the focus of the colony’ s water seeking efforts.
B ut variable rainfall and inappropriate development took their toll on the River Torrens. In a dry year its flow was unreliable and the lack of a modern sewerage system meant the quality of the water could not always be trusted. In common with most other cities in the mid 19 th century, Adelaide was susceptible to outbreaks of water-borne diseases.
The water supply problem was partly resolved with the construction of the now decommissioned Thorndon Park (Campbelltown) Reservoir in 1860.
By 1872, Hope Valley Reservoir was built to help supply Adelaide’ s growing urban areas.
By 1977 a further eight reservoirs had been completed to meet metropolitan demand.
At full capacity they hold, in total, almost 200,000 megalitres of water.
Reservoirs supplying water to Adelaide include: -
Providing water to regional South Australia presented particular challenges, given the vast distances involved and the extremely limited number and nature of natural water sources.
With almost visionary forethought, early engineers conceived, planned and built a number of massive pipelines to transport water from the River Murray to remote regions of the State, opening up the way for settlement.
The Mannum-Adelaide Pipeline was the first major pipeline built from the River Murray to serve the needs of Adelaide.
T he use of the River Murray as a source of water for Adelaide was considered for many years but was not possible until barrages close to the river ’s mouth were constructed to prevent saline water entering the lower reaches of the waterway.
T he pipeline which extends from Mannum to a 136 megalitre terminal storage at Modbury is 60 kilometres long and swung into operation in March 1955. Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the Mannum-Adelaide pipeline.
In all 5 pipelines have been constructed to serve SA from the Murray River
Since the 1970s there has been growing pressure on the State’ s water supplies even with the construction of new reservoirs t o service the metropolitan area. I n the 21st century SA Water is looking to innovative methods of supplying water - such as desalination - and reducing reliance on water supplies through greater recycling.
Total Statewide Wastewater Recycled Per Year 20.3 21,298 2004/2005 20.5 20,541 2003/2004 18.7 18,000 2002/2003 4.7 4730 1997/98 % of total wastewater flows ML/year
The small community of Penneshaw on Kangaroo Island has no local natural fresh water sources. SA Water had to find an innovative solution to provide drinking water to the town.
The answer was to build a $4 million desalination plant - which converts seawater into high quality, crystal clear, fresh drinking water to meet Penneshaw ’s needs.