Eyre Peninsula's new seawater desalination plant

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Desalination plant

We are working together with the Eyre Peninsula community as we progress plans for supplementing the Uley South groundwater supply with seawater desalination to ensure water security for the region into the future.

The plant will provide a new reliable, climate-independent source of drinking water to supplement existing groundwater sources and water from the River Murray and is critical to maintaining a long term supply of safe, clean drinking water for around 35,000 customers on the Eyre Peninsula.

Our experience in operating seawater desalination plants – and the experience of other utilities around Australia and the rest of the world – confirms they can be designed and operated to ensure they maintain the health of the environment, including the local marine environment.

Drinking water supplies for the Eyre Peninsula community remain secure, with current modelling showing groundwater resources and the River Murray will continue to meet demand until a desalination plant is built.

We are working together with the Eyre Peninsula community as we progress plans for supplementing the Uley South groundwater supply with seawater desalination to ensure water security for the region into the future.

The plant will provide a new reliable, climate-independent source of drinking water to supplement existing groundwater sources and water from the River Murray and is critical to maintaining a long term supply of safe, clean drinking water for around 35,000 customers on the Eyre Peninsula.

Our experience in operating seawater desalination plants – and the experience of other utilities around Australia and the rest of the world – confirms they can be designed and operated to ensure they maintain the health of the environment, including the local marine environment.

Drinking water supplies for the Eyre Peninsula community remain secure, with current modelling showing groundwater resources and the River Murray will continue to meet demand until a desalination plant is built.

  • Take our survey

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    Have your say on the Eyre Peninsula Desalination Plant Site Selection Committee’s shortlist by filling in our short survey.

    The survey closes on Tuesday 31 May.

  • Current status

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    A refreshed and independently led process to explore potential alternative sites for the planned Eyre Peninsula desalination plant is underway.

    Four sites have now been shortlisted as possible locations for the Eyre Peninsula Desalination Plant, Sleaford West, Point Boston, Uley South Shoal Point, and Sleaford North, as part of our plan to ensure a long-term supply of safe, clean drinking water for about 35,000 customers in the region.

    Selected by the independent Site Selection Committee, the preferred sites will now undergo a further rigorous process of detailed design, including marine science research, costing, and community engagement, before a final site is determined by the end of July this year.

    Our expert input will ensure the site is technically feasible, provides value for money, and achieves water security and quality outcomes for our customers living and working on the Eyre Peninsula.

    We have been working to identify a site for the desalination plant and engaging with the community and stakeholders throughout this process and will continue to do so as the project progresses.

    An additional 12 months has been incorporated into the project schedule, providing an opportunity to undertake more detailed assessments of various sites. The refreshed and independent exploration of potential alternative sites for the plant is underway.

    We continue to work closely with local industry, regulators and industry bodies to understand, investigate, and plan appropriately to consider the needs of industry in the area and mitigate potential risks.

    A suitable location that has the support of the Eyre Peninsula community, is backed by a viable business case and funding model, will be decided by mid-2022.

    The plant will be delivered by the end of 2024 and will provide a new reliable, climate-independent source of drinking water to supplement existing groundwater sources and water from the River Murray.


  • Base case location

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    While we are revisiting the site selection process with increased involvement of key stakeholders, ongoing data collection will be established for short-listed sites, and will continue at the base case location, building robust documentation for the approvals process.

    Following investigations of more than 20 sites around Port Lincoln and the Lower Eyre Peninsula, Billy Lights Point was selected as the base case location for a planned desalination plant in the region.

  • Engaging with the Eyre Peninsula community

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    Engagement with the Eyre Peninsula community will continue to be a key component of this project to date, with community feedback shaping the region’s long-term plan for water security.

    In support of the Site Selection Committee, we have undertaken a comprehensive community consultation, visiting 12 townships in the Eyre Peninsula to provide progress updates and seek feedback on proposed site locations. If you have any questions, or feedback, please email epdesal@sawater.com.au or ask us a question here



  • 2022 - Eyre Peninsula Site Selection Committee

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    The newly formed Site Selection Committee has a wide range of expertise to help ensure all interests are being taken into consideration, and local knowledge is being used to add value to the project. It includes a wide cross-section of community representatives from aquaculture, agriculture, local business and local government to help inform decision making,

    Site selection committee members:

    Peter Treloar (Independent Chair) – outgoing Member for Flinders

    Andy Dyer – South Australian Mussel Growers Association

    Brad Flaherty – City of Port Lincoln

    Brian Jeffriess– Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association

    Bryan Trigg – Regional Development Australia Eyre Peninsula

    Clare McLaughlin – Eyre Peninsula Local Government Association

    Claire Webber – South Australian Sardine Industry Association

    Delfina Lanzilli – District Council of Lower Eyre Peninsula

    Gary Neave – TSA

    Hannah Allen-Jordan - District Council of Tumby Bay

    Jack Ritchie – Port Lincoln Chamber of Commerce and Tourism

    Jo-Anne Quigley – District Council of Lower Eyre Peninsula

    Jonathan Clark – Eyre Peninsula Landscape Board

    Mark Whitfield – Eyre Peninsula Landscape Board

    Matthew Morgan – City of Port Lincoln

    Peter Scott – Eyre Peninsula Local Government Association

    Rebecca Hayes – District Council of Tumby Bay

    Rob Gratton - Clean Seas Seafood Limited

    Ryan Viney – Regional Development Australia Eyre Peninsula

    Shane Hodgens – Recreational Fishers Council

    Thomas McNab – Abalone Industry Association of South Australia

    Tom Hyde - Australian Abalone Growers Association

    Sam Telfer - Member for Flinders


    Meeting minutes

    Site Selection Committee: Meeting # 1 - 08 Feb 2022 - Meeting Minutes

    Site Selection Committee: Meeting # 2 - 11 Feb 2022 - Meeting Minutes

    Site Selection Committee: Meeting # 3 - 24 Feb 2022 - Meeting Minutes

    Site Selection Committee: Meeting # 4 - 03 March 2022 - Meeting Minutes

    Site Selection Committee: Meeting # 5 - 07 March 2022 - Meeting Minutes

    Site Selection Committee: Meeting # 6 - 11 April 2022 - Meeting Minutes


    Additional documents

    Eyre Peninsula Site Selection Committee Terms of Reference

    Media Release 12 April 2022 - Desalination sites shortlisted

  • 2021 - History of engagement with the Eyre Peninsula aquaculture industry

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    To inform the site review process, we have been engaging with local industry stakeholders – particularly those involved with aquaculture – to understand their interactions with the marine environment, and the factors they would like us to prioritise as a site is selected and a facility is designed, constructed and operated.

    In addition to individual briefings and meetings, local industry representatives have come together through a facilitated reference group, who met five times in 2021, to deep dive on topics with SA Water and independent subject matter experts.

    We have committed to continuing to work with industry over the long term, sharing information to ensure our common interest in maintaining a healthy and productive marine environment is achieved.

    1. Industry Drop-in sessions - 27 and 29 April 2021 - Summary
    2. Industry Reference Group: Meeting #1 - 14 May 2021 - Meeting Minutes
    3. Industry Reference Group: Meeting #2 - 26 May 2021 - PowerPoint Presentation and Meeting minutes
    4. Industry Reference Group: Meeting #3 - 1 July 2021 - Meeting minutes
    5. Independently facilitated Industry Risk workshop - 18 August 2021 - PowerPoint Presentation and Independent report
    6. Industry Reference Group: Meeting #4 - 19 October 2021 - PowerPoint Presentation and Meeting minutes
  • Water supply on the Eyre Peninsula

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    Eyre Peninsula water sources have reduced over time due to the changing climate and salinisation.

    The Uley South Basin has provided water for drinking supply since 1976 and currently provides 75% of all water used on the Eyre Peninsula, with the majority of the balance coming from the River Murray.

    Scientific knowledge of the Uley South Basin has continuously improved since this time through a combination of:

    • geophysical surveys
    • drilling investigations
    • water chemistry and isotopes analysis
    • numerical modelling
    • ongoing measurement of water levels and salinity.

    During 2021, we have implemented additional monitoring bores and collected more valuable data, and the Department of Environment and Water have conducted new predictive groundwater model simulations for the Uley South Basin.

    When combined with significant winter and spring rain events that have resulted in positive groundwater recharge in the Basin, there were indicators the critical water security deadline could be revised.

    Subsequent review and advice from independent experts at Flinders University now indicates extractions from the Basin can be sustainably managed through to the end of 2025, rather than the summer of 2023-24 as previously assessed.

    The desalination plant is required by 2025 to prevent permanent damage to Uley South Basin and the flow-on impacts to water availability across the Eyre Peninsula.

    We’re constantly monitoring Uley South Basin and have implemented various measures sure up near term water security:

    • increased storage across the network
    • a multi-million dollar initiative to redistribute extraction and revised bore configuration across the basin
Page last updated: 25 May 2022, 04:23 PM