Northern Water Supply project consultation kicks off

South Australia

The 260ML desalination plant and 600km pipeline network to the South Australia’s north is set to create a reliable water supply to enable the tripling of copper production, as well as kickstarting hydrogen and green steel operations.

The Northern Water Supply (NWS) project recently completed a business case which assessed the potential for a new and sustainable water supply for the Far North of SA and Upper Spencer Gulf.

The business case evaluated the environmental, social and economic benefits and impacts of building a seawater desalination plant in the region, along with a 600km pipeline to transport the desalinated water to communities and industries across the region, including the emerging hydrogen industry.

The project aims to sustainably support regional communities and industries now and into the future.

The 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.

Stakeholder engagement commenced in March 2022 with the announcement of the business case study and continued to the end of February 2023.

Overall feedback was supportive of a new water supply, including the benefits and opportunities it could bring, such as reducing or replacing the use of climate-vulnerable or non-renewable water sources like the Great Artesian Basin system and River Murray.

The project is proposing to underground the pipeline where feasible, which will mean revegetation of disturbed areas can be maximised. The pipeline corridor has been designed to follow existing infrastructure corridors wherever practicable.

Terrestrial environmental issues have been largely overshadowed by potential marine impacts in engagement to date, however, areas of concern are expected to arise as more attention is given the pipeline route planning and impact assessment.

Northern Water will continue to engage with stakeholders in the development and review of studies looking at the impact of the proposed development on the marine environment.

The final decision to proceed with construction of the Northern Water project will rely on gaining required project approvals and agreements.

This encompasses extended consultations with traditional owners, landholders, and the community; comprehensive evaluations of environmental, engineering, and economic aspects of the project; and commercial negotiations for project delivery and water purchase.

The final project decision is expected in 2025.

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