Considerations for Water Security Planning

What are the options and strategies you need to consider to help make your property ‘water secure’?

This was examined at a workshop BIGG held on April 13 at the Mt McKenzie Hall, featuring PIRSA Soil and Land Management consultants, Mary-Anne Young and Brian Hughes and BIGG Technical Facilitator, Janie Evans.

Mary-Anne Young initially gave an overview of the various water supply, capture, storage, reticulation, and monitoring options to consider on-farm, including;

  • Harvesting water run-off via roaded or lined-sheeted catchments,
  • Access to underground water (and tolerances of livestock type to salinity levels)
  • Dam and tank storage, and
  • Remote water monitoring using water level sensors, flow meters and cameras.

The first step, however, is knowing the water requirement of your property. Mary-Anne ran through an exercise where attendees calculated their total annual water use by estimating their domestic, machinery washdown, firefighting, livestock and cropping water use needs. Attendees then did an audit of the current water infrastructure and storage capacity of their property (see links below for Mary-Anne’s worksheets).

Janie Evans then gave an update of the Barossa New Water (BNW) Project. Janie outlined the timelines for the project, the two infrastructure options proposed under the scheme and their estimated costings. The options being;

  • Recycled water solution for Barossa and Eden Valleys (11 GL), and
  • Recycled water solution for Barossa (7 GL) and raw water solution for Eden Valley (4 GL of River Murray water via the Mannum to Adelaide pipeline).

Irrespective of the project options, both plan to deliver high desalinated water quality of 300-400 ppm.

Finally, Brian Hughes did some ‘crystal balling’ to estimate the costs for grazing enterprises if accessing water under the BNW project. This was compared to costs for installing an on-farm lined sheeted catchment and the costs of mains water. Of the three strategies, the lined water catchment was assessed to be the most cost-effective long-term (its upfront costs though were the highest).

At the end of the workshop, attendees discussed accessing water under the BNW project, with the strong consensus being that associated legislation and policy must first be addressed before graziers could invest in the scheme. Relevant key issues currently under consideration are that the proposed Bolivar water quality aims to be a high enough quality for the diversity of our Primary Production region, servicing irrigation, but also for livestock consumption, storage in on-farm dams, and environmental run-off.

This workshop was supported through funding from the Australian Governments Smart Farms Small Grants