“Volume is king” and “this is happening” were the key messages heard during three Barossa New Water project information sessions held last month.
Hosted by BGWA at The Barossa Cellar, more than one hundred people heard how secure, climate-independent and affordable water to complement other water sources, could be delivered, especially to Eden Valley.
“We had the opportunity to provide water users with information about the potential costs, quality and options in terms of where the scheme could be built and who it can accommodate,” Barossa Grape & Wine Association CEO, Mr James March told The Leader.
“We’ve now entered a phase of consultation which is to qualify and quantify the demand, because that is critical to how big and how costly this scheme is going to be.
“We know the critical need is in Eden Valley because they do not have a water supply solution, so that is why we are very conscious of making sure that there is a level of detail that gives those water users confidence that this process is real – it is happening and Eden Valley is in scope.”
Information provided by PIRSA representatives and KBR, the advisory firm developing Barossa New Water’s detailed business case, was encouraging for landholders including farmers, grapegrowers and golf club representatives who were urged to register if they wanted to be part of the process or “miss out”.
“We’ve reached a pivotal point,” Mr March said.
“This is about us reaching as many potential water users in this district as we can, not only Eden Valley. This is phase one and there will be a phase two in terms of the next round of consultation which will take place early next calendar year.”
It’s during the next phase that the business case will be further refined and water agreements will be signed.
“If you are not a part of that, there will not be another opportunity,” Mr March said.
Decisions surrounding whether Eden Valley could be connected to treated Bolivar water infrastructure or if it is more appropriate to connect into the Mannum/Adelaide pipeline in the short term, are all in scope to provide for the approximately 20,000 hectares of land in need of supply.
Then there is also potential for links into the BIL scheme or Light Regional Council’s recently announced water infrastructure project planned for Western Barossa set to harvest storm water from the Roseworthy expansion and other sustainable sources.
“There will be consideration to how all these link together to avoid duplication,” Mr March said.
Long term sustainability is paramount to the New Barossa Water project which, to date, has received $1.5 million State Government funding and $4.5 million from the Federal Government, including the recently announced $1 million for Eden Valley investigations.
“There has to be a realistic and affordable solution built in all of this but we know the guiding principle is long term reliance and dependency on the River Murray is not in anyone’s interest,” he said.
And how long before the water will flow? Hopefully early to mid 2025 is the answer.
“That’s the time frame we are encouraging people to start planning for,” Mr March said.
“But they need to be thinking about the long term trends which are a warming, drying climate and water usage being critically important in terms of future sustainability.
“It’s also about trying to capture all the economic, the social and environmental drivers in all of this.
“This is not just about immediate water needs, this is thinking about your children, about future generations and the only opportunity to come into this scheme is here.”