Kangaroo Island's new seawater desalination plant

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Clarifying key points about Kangaroo Island’s new desalination plant


Some recent community conversation about Kangaroo Island’s new desalination plant has misrepresented key pieces of information.

Here are key points to clarify statements you might have seen or heard:


  • The location and concept design of the desalination plant was shared for community feedback in more than 10 drop-in sessions and presentations held across the Island in August and September 2021.


  • The State Commission Assessment Panel (SCAP) conducted their independent review process – which included public consultation and considered submissions from some local community members – and recommended the Development Application for approval by the Minister, which was granted on 16 February 2022. You can read the full Development Application (Submission and Response) and SCAP’s Decision Notification Form with the conditions of approval that must be met.


  • In response to community feedback, the facility’s design was repositioned within the identified site, excavated into the hill and some tall equipment was reconfigured from vertical to horizontal. These design amendments remain our commitment and conditions of the Development Approval that must be met.


  • To minimise potential impact on residents in the area, the facility will – as a minimum – comply with noise limits stipulated by the Environment Protection Authority for this zone, which range between 40 and 45 decibels. For context, this decibel range is the equivalent of a personal computer cooling fan, light rain or a quiet library. This remains our commitment and a condition of the Development Approval.


  • To enable local input into the facility’s final design, we formed an eight person working group who have come together three times over the last six months and made key selections for building and fencing materials and colours, and landscape design and screening vegetation. Our commitments to the working group and decisions we have collaborated on, remain unchanged.


  • A new barrier will be installed along Hog Bay Road to improve road safety outcomes and provide separation from the new facility.


  • Island freight companies were consulted and received our commitment they will still be able to continue using some of the site as an informal parking area both during and after construction of the new facility.


  • While our water storage site at the corner of Hog Bay and Charing Cross Roads is reflected in local planning guides, the area shown is larger than the land we own. An expansion on this site is not feasible as it would require land acquisition and native vegetation clearance, be closer to the nearest residence, and have higher bushfire and environmental risks.


  • A combination of overhead and underground powerlines to the new desalination plant were shown in the Development Application and visual renderings. Until last week, we had not received any feedback on this topic. If you’d like to share your thoughts on the 150 meter extension of the existing overhead powerline on William Walkers Way, email kinewdesal@sawater.com.au by 3 May 2022. We’ll consider feedback received and assess the feasibility of any alternate approaches.


  • The new facility will meet current projected water demand on the Island, and while some allowance is made for potential future expansion, there are no identified plans. Any future expansion would constitute new development and would be subject to the development approval and consultation processes of the time.

If you would like more information contact our team at kinewdesal@sawater.com.au so you can get the facts first hand.


For new connection applications along the new trunk main, please follow this link - Connecting new customers along Hog Bay Road and Arronmore Road

For new connection applications for American River, Baudin Beach, Island Beach and Sapphiretown property owners, please follow this link - Connecting new customers in American River, Baudin Beach, Island Beach and Sapphiretown


We are constructing a new seawater desalination plant and distribution network on Kangaroo Island, at a cost of $64.9 million.

This plant will provide additional water security for the island, improve water quality management to ensure ongoing compliance to Australian Drinking Water Guidelines and expand the network to new customer areas with first water from the plant targeted to be delivered to residents in American River, Baudin Beach, Island Beach and Sapphiretown by the end of 2022.

The new desalination plant will also provide an additional climate independent drinking water supply, boost economic activity, and improve bushfire resilience.

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 will have capacity to service residents in Baudin Beach, Island Beach, Sapphiretown and American River. Our engagement with these communities will explore opportunities and interest in connecting to this new drinking water supply with consultation informing where any new drinking water networks are laid.

To aid firefighting capabilities, we plan to install fire plugs every 2 kilometres along the trunk main and every 400 metres along the new pipelines in the new communities we aim to supply as part of this project. These fire plugs will allow access by the Country Fire Service for firefighting purposes.

The new desalination plant will produce as much as 80% of the Island’s current water requirements. This will allow for growth and an expected increase in demand.

Current status

Pipeline construction

Stage 1 of the construction and installation of the new trunk main pipeline, connecting the existing Penneshaw facility and the Middle River-Kingscote network, has begun. This section extends from Pelican Lagoon, along Hog Bay Road, to our earth bank storage site near the corner of Charing Cross Road and Hog Bay Road.

To ensure the safety of motorists, the community and our work crew, traffic management including reduced speed will be in place during works. Please allow extra time if you need to travel through these areas.

We continue planning for delivery of Stage two pipe installation and township pipe reticulation, with work to commence in later this year.

Desalination plant construction

Along with our contract partners, John Holland Guidera O’Connor (JHGO), who are responsible for the delivery of the new desalination plant, we have now mobilised to the site and started work. JHGO have established a temporary laydown area to support operations as part of the construction of the new plant. The laydown area will be used to:

  • house machinery, equipment, and temporary sheds
  • facilitate the delivery of the materials necessary to construct the plant, such as pipe, gravel, and sand for backfilling
  • establish temporary worker facilities and office spaces

The vacant land on the western side of William Walkers Way has been identified and supported as our laydown area. The southern section, closest to the corner of Desal Drive and William Walkers Way, is the proposed location of site huts and personal facilities. The remaining area to the north will be used as carpark and storage areas for materials (including pipe, gravel, and sand).

The new desalination plant location

The site of the new desalination plant is approximately two kilometres west of the Penneshaw township, within the road reserve of Hog Bay Road, Kangaroo Head near the intersection of William Walkers Way.

We expect that construction of the new desalination plant will take around 10-12 months.

Development application

The Minister for Planning and Local Government has approved our development application for the construction of a new desalination plant and supporting infrastructure. This approval followed the advice provided by the State Commission Assessment Panel (SCAP) who considered the application at their meeting on the 9 February 2022.

Our experience with desalination plants

We operate nine desalination plants across South Australia including seawater desalination plants at Lonsdale in Adelaide and the existing plant at Penneshaw.

Our desalination plants improve security of drinking water supplies for our customers. They give us the ability to supply water regardless of climate impacts and ensure drinking water is still available even in times of drought.

How desalination plants work

Our desalination plants use a technology called reverse osmosis. The process removes up to 99 per cent of the impurities and salt in the water. Once the impurities - mainly salt - are removed, the water is treated to ensure it is safe to.

How to get involved

Over the duration of the project, we will facilitate a number of discussions that will provide you with project updates and information, opportunities to discuss the project with us and connection opportunities for the communities of American River, Baudin Beach, Island Beach and Sapphiretown and along the pipeline connecting the existing Penneshaw facility and the Middle River-Kingscote network.

JHGO will rehabilitate the laydown area once the new desalination plant is constructed and operational. We are committed to keeping these impacts to a minimum however temporary changes to local traffic conditions, noise and dust levels can be expected.

Clarifying key points about Kangaroo Island’s new desalination plant


Some recent community conversation about Kangaroo Island’s new desalination plant has misrepresented key pieces of information.

Here are key points to clarify statements you might have seen or heard:


  • The location and concept design of the desalination plant was shared for community feedback in more than 10 drop-in sessions and presentations held across the Island in August and September 2021.


  • The State Commission Assessment Panel (SCAP) conducted their independent review process – which included public consultation and considered submissions from some local community members – and recommended the Development Application for approval by the Minister, which was granted on 16 February 2022. You can read the full Development Application (Submission and Response) and SCAP’s Decision Notification Form with the conditions of approval that must be met.


  • In response to community feedback, the facility’s design was repositioned within the identified site, excavated into the hill and some tall equipment was reconfigured from vertical to horizontal. These design amendments remain our commitment and conditions of the Development Approval that must be met.


  • To minimise potential impact on residents in the area, the facility will – as a minimum – comply with noise limits stipulated by the Environment Protection Authority for this zone, which range between 40 and 45 decibels. For context, this decibel range is the equivalent of a personal computer cooling fan, light rain or a quiet library. This remains our commitment and a condition of the Development Approval.


  • To enable local input into the facility’s final design, we formed an eight person working group who have come together three times over the last six months and made key selections for building and fencing materials and colours, and landscape design and screening vegetation. Our commitments to the working group and decisions we have collaborated on, remain unchanged.


  • A new barrier will be installed along Hog Bay Road to improve road safety outcomes and provide separation from the new facility.


  • Island freight companies were consulted and received our commitment they will still be able to continue using some of the site as an informal parking area both during and after construction of the new facility.


  • While our water storage site at the corner of Hog Bay and Charing Cross Roads is reflected in local planning guides, the area shown is larger than the land we own. An expansion on this site is not feasible as it would require land acquisition and native vegetation clearance, be closer to the nearest residence, and have higher bushfire and environmental risks.


  • A combination of overhead and underground powerlines to the new desalination plant were shown in the Development Application and visual renderings. Until last week, we had not received any feedback on this topic. If you’d like to share your thoughts on the 150 meter extension of the existing overhead powerline on William Walkers Way, email kinewdesal@sawater.com.au by 3 May 2022. We’ll consider feedback received and assess the feasibility of any alternate approaches.


  • The new facility will meet current projected water demand on the Island, and while some allowance is made for potential future expansion, there are no identified plans. Any future expansion would constitute new development and would be subject to the development approval and consultation processes of the time.

If you would like more information contact our team at kinewdesal@sawater.com.au so you can get the facts first hand.


For new connection applications along the new trunk main, please follow this link - Connecting new customers along Hog Bay Road and Arronmore Road

For new connection applications for American River, Baudin Beach, Island Beach and Sapphiretown property owners, please follow this link - Connecting new customers in American River, Baudin Beach, Island Beach and Sapphiretown


We are constructing a new seawater desalination plant and distribution network on Kangaroo Island, at a cost of $64.9 million.

This plant will provide additional water security for the island, improve water quality management to ensure ongoing compliance to Australian Drinking Water Guidelines and expand the network to new customer areas with first water from the plant targeted to be delivered to residents in American River, Baudin Beach, Island Beach and Sapphiretown by the end of 2022.

The new desalination plant will also provide an additional climate independent drinking water supply, boost economic activity, and improve bushfire resilience.

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 will have capacity to service residents in Baudin Beach, Island Beach, Sapphiretown and American River. Our engagement with these communities will explore opportunities and interest in connecting to this new drinking water supply with consultation informing where any new drinking water networks are laid.

To aid firefighting capabilities, we plan to install fire plugs every 2 kilometres along the trunk main and every 400 metres along the new pipelines in the new communities we aim to supply as part of this project. These fire plugs will allow access by the Country Fire Service for firefighting purposes.

The new desalination plant will produce as much as 80% of the Island’s current water requirements. This will allow for growth and an expected increase in demand.

Current status

Pipeline construction

Stage 1 of the construction and installation of the new trunk main pipeline, connecting the existing Penneshaw facility and the Middle River-Kingscote network, has begun. This section extends from Pelican Lagoon, along Hog Bay Road, to our earth bank storage site near the corner of Charing Cross Road and Hog Bay Road.

To ensure the safety of motorists, the community and our work crew, traffic management including reduced speed will be in place during works. Please allow extra time if you need to travel through these areas.

We continue planning for delivery of Stage two pipe installation and township pipe reticulation, with work to commence in later this year.

Desalination plant construction

Along with our contract partners, John Holland Guidera O’Connor (JHGO), who are responsible for the delivery of the new desalination plant, we have now mobilised to the site and started work. JHGO have established a temporary laydown area to support operations as part of the construction of the new plant. The laydown area will be used to:

  • house machinery, equipment, and temporary sheds
  • facilitate the delivery of the materials necessary to construct the plant, such as pipe, gravel, and sand for backfilling
  • establish temporary worker facilities and office spaces

The vacant land on the western side of William Walkers Way has been identified and supported as our laydown area. The southern section, closest to the corner of Desal Drive and William Walkers Way, is the proposed location of site huts and personal facilities. The remaining area to the north will be used as carpark and storage areas for materials (including pipe, gravel, and sand).

The new desalination plant location

The site of the new desalination plant is approximately two kilometres west of the Penneshaw township, within the road reserve of Hog Bay Road, Kangaroo Head near the intersection of William Walkers Way.

We expect that construction of the new desalination plant will take around 10-12 months.

Development application

The Minister for Planning and Local Government has approved our development application for the construction of a new desalination plant and supporting infrastructure. This approval followed the advice provided by the State Commission Assessment Panel (SCAP) who considered the application at their meeting on the 9 February 2022.

Our experience with desalination plants

We operate nine desalination plants across South Australia including seawater desalination plants at Lonsdale in Adelaide and the existing plant at Penneshaw.

Our desalination plants improve security of drinking water supplies for our customers. They give us the ability to supply water regardless of climate impacts and ensure drinking water is still available even in times of drought.

How desalination plants work

Our desalination plants use a technology called reverse osmosis. The process removes up to 99 per cent of the impurities and salt in the water. Once the impurities - mainly salt - are removed, the water is treated to ensure it is safe to.

How to get involved

Over the duration of the project, we will facilitate a number of discussions that will provide you with project updates and information, opportunities to discuss the project with us and connection opportunities for the communities of American River, Baudin Beach, Island Beach and Sapphiretown and along the pipeline connecting the existing Penneshaw facility and the Middle River-Kingscote network.

JHGO will rehabilitate the laydown area once the new desalination plant is constructed and operational. We are committed to keeping these impacts to a minimum however temporary changes to local traffic conditions, noise and dust levels can be expected.

  • Connecting new customers along Hog Bay Road and Arronmore Road

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    To keep our costs as low as possible for new water connections installed directly off the trunk main along Hog Bay Road and Arronmore Road, we will provide individual 20mm water meters in a shared manifold arrangement where possible. A manifold arrangement allows between two and four individual meters to be co-located and reduces the overall installation cost.

    We will locate the manifold connection and water meters adjacent to driveways and close to boundaries which in some cases will be in the road verge requiring an underground box to protect the meters from damage. It is unlikely we will be able to locate meters in preferred locations for all customers.

    We are pleased to advise the cost for a 20mm meter connection as part of a manifold along Hog Bay Road and Arronmore Road will be capped at $3050 per property for connections applied for before 28 February 2022.

    You will be responsible for private pipework requirements, including any Council permits for construction in road verge, from the meter to your property.

    To apply for a new connection along Hog Bay Road and Arronmore Road, please follow this link to complete an application.

    Any connection requests for a larger water meter to accommodate business purposes or an individual connection outside of a shared manifold arrangement will need to be reviewed to ensure there is sufficient capacity to be shared across the entire network and may incur additional costs.

    It is recommended that you seek professional advice from a plumber around your specific circumstances to ensure internal pipelines and/or other suitable storage and pumps (if required) is incorporated to meet your ongoing needs. Getting water from the meter to your tank or your home will be your responsibility.

    Water supply from the new connection will not be available until the new trunk main and desalination plant is completed and commissioned. We will let you know when water is available.

  • Connecting new customers in American River, Baudin Beach, Island Beach and Sapphiretown

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    supporting image

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

    Connections for new customers in American River, Baudin Beach, Island Beach and Sapphiretown will be available at a reduced fee which can be achieved by undertaking connections to properties at the same time as laying the mains in your community.

    We are pleased to advise the cost of a standard 20mm meter connection for new customers in American River, Baudin Beach, Island Beach and Sapphiretown has been reduced to $1650 per property, connected during construction of the new reticulation networks.

    A fact sheet that outlines details including the cost to connect and our statewide water pricing and an Intent to Connect document. The fact sheet can be found in the Documents section of this page.

Page last updated: 24 May 2022, 10:02 AM