Kangaroo Island's new seawater desalination plant

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The Australian and South Australian Governments have committed $47.8 million to build a new desalination plant on Kangaroo Island, which will provide an additional climate-independent drinking water supply, boost economic activity, and improve bushfire resilience.

The new desalination plant will be built in the vicinity of the existing plant at Penneshaw and, able to produce up to two megalitres a day, will improve drinking water security to support the tourism and agriculture industries.

Water produced from the new plant will supplement the existing Penneshaw facility and the Middle River Reservoir, supplying the Island through a connected drinking water network.

A new pipeline, connecting the new desalination plant to the Middle River-Kingscote network, will have capacity to service residents in Baudin Beach, Island Beach, Sapphiretown and American River.

Engagement with these communities will explore opportunities and interest in connecting to this new, safe, secure and affordable drinking water supply. Consultation will help inform where any new drinking water networks are laid.

We are now working towards commencing construction, and we anticipate that the desalination plant will take between 18 and 24 months to complete.


The Australian and South Australian Governments have committed $47.8 million to build a new desalination plant on Kangaroo Island, which will provide an additional climate-independent drinking water supply, boost economic activity, and improve bushfire resilience.

The new desalination plant will be built in the vicinity of the existing plant at Penneshaw and, able to produce up to two megalitres a day, will improve drinking water security to support the tourism and agriculture industries.

Water produced from the new plant will supplement the existing Penneshaw facility and the Middle River Reservoir, supplying the Island through a connected drinking water network.

A new pipeline, connecting the new desalination plant to the Middle River-Kingscote network, will have capacity to service residents in Baudin Beach, Island Beach, Sapphiretown and American River.

Engagement with these communities will explore opportunities and interest in connecting to this new, safe, secure and affordable drinking water supply. Consultation will help inform where any new drinking water networks are laid.

We are now working towards commencing construction, and we anticipate that the desalination plant will take between 18 and 24 months to complete.


  • Connecting new customers

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    Opportunities to connect to the proposed new water mains network in American River, Baudin Beach, Island Beach and Sapphiretown is a critical part of this project.

    A reduced connection fee for new customers in these four communities who opt in before connection works begin will be available. This reduction can be achieved by undertaking connections to properties at the same time as laying the mains in your community.

    A fact sheet that outlines details including the cost to connect and our statewide water pricing and an Intent to Connect document, that we ask you to complete and return by 30 April 2021. The fact sheet can be found in the Documents section of this page. Please complete this and return it by 30 April 2021.

  • How to get involved

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    There are a number of ways you can get involved.

    There is a short survey inviting you to provide information on your current water use and what your future water supply needs could be. This information will help inform the design and scope of new connection opportunities.

    You can find answers to frequently asked questions here. This will be updated throughout the project. If your question is not answered, you can ask us here.

    You can also talk with us about the project by calling Aaron Glossop on 7424 3195 or email aaron.glossop@sawater.com.au.

    To be kept informed as the project progresses, please subscribe to our email list on the right hand side of this page.

  • Background

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    In 2018, we released the Kangaroo Island long-term water security plan (the Plan).

    The Plan was developed in consultation with key stakeholders, including local government, industry, environment, and community groups, and outlined a framework that will ensure we meet increases in water demand for Kangaroo Island for the next 25 years.

    Opportunities and challenges identified in the Plan are balanced across a range of factors, both now and into the future with the aim to ensure a safe, secure and reliable water supply for current and future customers while keeping prices as low and stable as possible.

    A number of options to ensure water security were considered during the development of the Plan with an additional desalination plant identified as the preferred option.

    While the existing Middle River and Penneshaw water supply networks have adequate capacity to meet current needs and sustain organic growth until about 2036, warm and dry conditions, along with the recent bushfires, has seen an increase in demand placing stress on the Middle River Reservoir.

    In response, we are now accelerating the recommendation of the Plan to construct a new desalination plant at Penneshaw along with a new pipeline and associated infrastructure that will connect to the existing Middle River-Kingscote water supply network.