Why is a water security strategy needed in Barossa?
Barossa is a premium food, wine and agricultural region with a vibrant tourism sector and a successful grazing industry. Water availability has been key to the economic wellbeing of the region as well as to supporting environmental, cultural and amenity values.
Barossa has recently experienced water scarcity due to a number of consecutive dry years. Impacts have been particularly severe in the Eden Valley. Short-term measures have been put in place for irrigation and stock water, however the need for a long-term strategy around water security has been highlighted, especially in the context of a warming and drying climate.
The majority of climate projections show that the reliability of surface water and groundwater will decrease and environmental flows will decline. Irrigation water demand is also expected to increase. Without action to address water security, the number of years when water demand exceeds supply is likely to be more frequent, putting current activity and a healthy environment at risk.
An opportunity exists to harness alternative water sources to underpin existing water demand and increase resilience to future drought conditions. A long-term strategic approach has been taken to identify a suite of strategic actions, including alternative water sources that together will support current demand and incremental future growth out to 2050.
The process to develop a water security strategy for Barossa is being led by DEW in partnership with PIRSA, SA Water, the Environment Protection Authority, Northern & Yorke Landscape Board, Barossa Australia, Barossa Infrastructure Limited (BIL), The Barossa Council, Light Regional Council, RDA Barossa Gawler Light and Adelaide Plains.
To support the development of the strategy an assessment of the current and future water security of the Barossa was undertaken by the University of Adelaide.
State Government water security planning
The Department for Environment and Water (DEW) is investing in water security planning as regions adapt to a changing climate and increasing demands for water. The development of water security strategies recognises there are regions and industries where demand for water exceeds available supplies.
Water security strategies aim to build on traditional (which apply to surface and groundwater resources) and link fit-for-purpose water supplies with existing and emerging water demands. The strategy development process allows new supplies, expansion of existing supplies and changing demand profiles to be considered in the context of a changing climate.
Water security strategies aim to provide confidence to businesses and the community that there will be sufficient water supply options to support the future vision for their region, particularly in a changing climate.
As part of the approach to targeted water security planning, DEW is currently working with the Barossa Valley and Eden Valley communities to develop an integrated water security strategy to support current demand and incremental future growth in the region.
How was the strategy developed?
The process undertaken integrates strategic foresight and resilience-based planning. It purposefully takes a long-term view that considers the significant global, regional and local uncertainties anticipated to be faced in the future and plans for these in the context of water security.
Three workshops were held throughout 2021 to develop a shared vision for Barossa and consider pathways to achieve that vision under a range of future scenarios, with extensive research and analysis undertaken in between workshops.
Potential options have been assessed, including under plausible future climate scenarios, and the most robust options have been included in the draft strategy.
There are numerous water-focused projects also underway in Barossa, and the strategy has taken these into account. The strategy development complements existing projects and brings together the different understandings of water use and availability in Barossa to form a robust long-term plan to meet the needs of the regions in the future.
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