Editor’s note: We just received this media release from the Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board, and thought it important that the local community gets involved in the allocation of water in the Willunga Basin.
The Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board has recently completed a review of the McLaren Vale Water Allocation Plan and we wish to provide an update to water users and the broader community.
The McLaren Vale region has a proud history of proactively striving for the sustainable management of groundwater resources and we continue to be impressed with the level of passion and expertise that exist in the region.
What is the McLaren Vale Water Allocation Plan?
The McLaren Vale Water Allocation Plan sets the rules for using groundwater in the Willunga Basin, and the current rules and policies of this plan have been in place since 2007. The plan sets limits for groundwater extraction, rules for new bores/wells, rules around trade of water and it also considers the water needs of the environment.
There are twenty Water Allocation Plans across South Australia and more information on their role and function can be found on the Department for Environment and Water website. Department for Environment and Water – Water allocation plans
What was the purpose of the McLaren Vale Water Allocation Plan review?
The Landscape South Australia Act 2019 requires that a water allocation plan be comprehensively reviewed every ten years. Throughout 2021-22, the Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board has worked with the community to review the McLaren Vale Water Allocation Plan. We are very grateful for the hard work and commitment of the industry and community representatives who were part of the advisory committee.
The purpose of the review was to evaluate the current plan, and ask two key questions:
- Are the current rules of the plan effective in sustainably managing groundwater?
- Does the current plan remain appropriate, or is amendment required?
What did the review find?
The review found groundwater extraction to be well within the limits set. However, the McLaren Vale Water Allocation Plan requires amendment to address the following:
First Nations (Kaurna) interests are not recognised;
Rising groundwater salinity has been identified as posing a high risk in some localised areas;
Small long-term downward trends in the levels of some aquifers need to be better understood;
More information is needed to understand groundwater dependent ecosystems;
The plan lacks a set of overarching objectives; and
The plan does not consider impacts of climate change.
The full Review Report with more detailed information can be found on our website, here: Microsoft Word – McLaren Vale WAP Review Report_Draft 29-7-22 – for signature (environment.sa.gov.au)
The review also considered the importance of integrating the management of groundwater and surface water resources, recognising their connectivity. The Board subsequently made a decision to amalgamate the McLaren Vale Water Allocation Plan with the Western Mount Lofty Ranges Water Allocation Plan in order to achieve this integrated management. More information on this can be found on our website or by clicking this link. Landscape South Australia – Hills and Fleurieu | McLaren Vale Water…
What does the review mean for the McLaren Vale region and what are the next steps?
Work is underway to support amendment of policies. The ‘next steps’ in the process are;
We will commence work with water licensees affected by identified salinity hotspots in November this year (2022).
Before possible policy changes can be explored, further investigation and information gathering is underway to better understand the trends in groundwater levels.
The process of exploring policy changes will commence in early 2024, and will provide opportunities for the community to be involved.
Until amendment is complete and a new set of policies are adopted, the current policies (including water allocations to existing users) will remain unchanged.
Where can I find more information?
We hope this notification on the recent review and upcoming amendment of the McLaren Vale Water Allocation Plan is helpful. Head to our website for more details (click here to view our webpage Landscape South Australia – Hills and Fleurieu | McLaren Vale Water…) or contact us at 8391 7500 or email email@example.com should you wish to speak to someone directly with any further questions.