Recycled sewerage water will be used to irrigate agriculture and horticulture on the Adelaide Plains
S.A. is a dry State so this has intuitive appeal. And recycled sewerage water has been used for cropping in Israel with great success.
But I am suspicious about no mention of a cost/benefit study. There are all sorts of areas in Australia suitable for irrigated crops -- dare I mention the Ord? -- but few of them are economically feasible, partly due to transport and marketing costs but also due to the chronic wordwide glut of agricultural products.
But this development will be in close proximity to a major market for its product so it may work at some level. Recovery of the capital costs or much return to capital are most unlikely, however. Neither eventuated at the Ord. Governments are dumb investors. But water is something of a sacred icon in "the dry continent"
AN irrigation project that could create up to 3700 jobs in northern Adelaide will go ahead after the Federal Government promised to contribute $46 million towards building costs.
Despite facing a political crisis after it was revealed he held New Zealand citizenship, Agriculture and Water Resources Minister Barnaby Joyce has agreed to spend $45.6 million from the National Water Infrastructure Development on the irrigation scheme.
The project will pump recycled water from the Bolivar sewage treatment works to the Adelaide Plains for use in irrigated agriculture and horticulture.
Mr Joyce and Assistant Water Minister Anne Ruston will on Thursday announce the Federal Government’s financial support for the scheme.
"We’re investing in the infrastructure of tomorrow so we can expand our production to meet global food demand that is set to rise by 75 per cent between 2007 and 2050," the Deputy Prime Minister said.
"This project will be key to developing greater market access for South Australian producers to Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia and Singapore. [That didn't work for the Ord and Adelaide is even farther away from those markets than is the Ord]
"This project is a great example of the kind of infrastructure we are delivering across the country.”
Senator Ruston said the irrigation scheme would help unlock the potential of undeveloped land.
"Having already delivered funding of $2.5 million for the feasibility study, I am pleased the Government is continuing our support into the construction stage of this valuable project," she said.
Senator Ruston said access to additional water would create new opportunities for farmers to capture the potential of higher-value crops.
Groundwater in the region is currently over-allocated.
The State Government has already promised $110 million towards the irrigation scheme and had been seeking a federal contribution.
The project is designed to create new job opportunities in the northern Adelaide region after the Holden factory closes in October.
Waste water from the Bolivar plant is currently pumped out to sea. The irrigation project will help SA Water to meet its obligation to reduce nitrogen discharges into the ocean.
The irrigation scheme is expected to operational by early 2019 and will initially deliver 12 gigalitres of water each year. It could eventually be expanded to deliver up to 20 gigalitres per year.
A new water treatment plant, a pump station, bore field and 50km of pipes will supply a new irrigation area.
Irrigated agriculture is worth more than $1.8 billion South Australia’s agricultural production. Vegetables are the most valuable irrigated agricultural commodity in SA and were worth $446 million in 2014-15.
The Federal Government is spending $2.5 billion water infrastructure through loans and grant programs.