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Gawler Water Reuse Scheme

Background

The Gawler River Water Reuse Scheme (GWRS) is a $22m Project which has emanated from the creation of a large borrow pit adjacent the Gawler River, excavated to source fill material for the construction of the Northern Expressway. The pit provided a significant opportunity to harvest urban stormwater runoff from the Gawler River catchment when flows are above the environmental threshold (616L/s), store in the nearby high performance Kangaroo Flat underground aquifer and make available for reuse in surrounding areas for urban and primary industrial use.

The Australian Government’s National Urban Water and Desalination Plan provided a sound program to fund an initial feasibility study into the Project and then part of the capital for the design and construction of the infrastructure to implement the recycled water scheme.

Funding Structure

The capped Australian Government project funding of $10.7m encouraged the regional Councils to approach the private sector for involvement to implement the scheme without significant burden on local government resources. After a successful open procurement process, the preferred private partner (Aqua Australis Group—AAG) was unable to secure enough water customers to continue. With marginal time remaining to deliver the Project and to ensure the Australian Government funding was not lost, a bulk water "Foundation" supply agreement with Seppeltsfield Wines (the ‘Foundation Customer’) and Light Regional Council was negotiated. This followed the withdrawal of the other regional Councils that had varying circumstances to commit capital to fund the Project in the lead up to Council elections.

Under the new partnership, Bunyip Water Pty Ltd was formed to design, construct and operate the scheme inclusive of securing water customers. Under a Loan Agreement with the Council, Bunyip Water will borrow the entire Project funds in order to implement the scheme and has the option of taking control of the infrastructure (and associated water licenses) after 6 or 10 years by paying out the loan principal in full.

The Scheme is estimated to provide Council an average annual surplus of between $350k and $1.3m and when sold in 2022 or 2026 a capital gain of $10m plus.

Scheme Design

The infrastructure has been designed to substitute, on average, at least 800 ML/a of River Murray water used in the Western Barossa with urban stormwater harvested from the Gawler River. The transfer pipes will convey peak flows of up to 13ML/day to above ground and aquifer storages, providing flexibility to best match predominantly winter supply with typical summer demand. The scheme will improve primary production in the region. The scheme will also provide higher quality water for urban recreation use in and around Hewett (~50 ML/a). The initial scheme infrastructure stretches from the Gawler River right through to the south-western Barossa Valley and will consist of around:

  • 40km of underground pipes;
  • 5 pump stations;
  • 2 above ground tanks;
  • 2 above ground storage dams; and
  • several Managed Aquifer Recharge bores.

Benefits and Opportunities

The economic benefits of the $22m project construction works are a significant benefit for the region and the state, as it commences its transition from automotive manufacturing to other industries. An estimated 130 Full Time Employee (FTE) jobs were created during the design and construction phase alone.

Other benefits of the project include:

  • The establishment of an environmentally sustainable alternative source of water which will enhance economic activity and provide employment and income benefits.
  • Adding value to the National Water Commission’s National Water Initiative by:
    • Addressing the prospect of increased climate variability and the potential return to drought,
    • Making regional water use more efficient, sustainable and secure, and
    • Advancing water reform through public leadership, investment and decision making that improves water management.
  • Creating opportunities for water markets and water trading from a scheme which is capable of significant expansion over a long timeframe.
  • Appropriate pricing of non-potable water supplies.
  • An innovative scheme which provides for the integrated management of water for environmental and public benefit purposes.
  • A comprehensive accounting of the available water resources.
  • Urban water reform through the capture, cleansing and reuse of stormwater runoff.
  • A collaborative project involving the Australian Government, State Government, Local Government, private industry, the community and water consumers.

In addition to the broad benefits listed above, the project creates a stormwater management pathway for the Roseworthy Township Expansion, the rezoning of 560 hectares of land that abuts the pipe route to the north of Redbanks Roads. Up to 2 GL of urban stormwater runoff is projected to be harvested from this land division project over the next 30 years, which might be best controlled and potentially reused using the infrastructure created through this project

Conclusion

The Gawler Water Reuse Scheme has delivered a successful $22m project under the National Urban Water and Desalination Plan program. It is a best practice example of all levels of government working with the private sector to achieve water security and economic development outcomes for the Barossa and Light region. Importantly, it lays a solid foundation for expanded infrastructure to stimulate jobs in the north of Adelaide, South Australia as it enters a period of decline associated with the withdrawal of employment in the automotive industry.

GWRS-LocationPlan

Final Report

The final report provides an overview of the project describing the works from planning, to detailed design and through to end construction. There is discussion on how the project was successfully managed, including some of the main challenges and lessons learnt. There is also confirmation of the project benefits and budget management, which has led to likely early scheme enhancements and expansion.

Gawler Water Reuse Scheme - Final Report(3933 kb)

Light Regional Council
PO Box 72
Kapunda SA 5373
Contact
Tel: (08) 8525 3200