The South Australian government has announced plans to invest A$110m in the Northern Adelaide Plains to boost irrigated food production.
The state government has reached out to the federal government for a further A$45.6m, through the Federal Government's National Water Infrastructure Development Fund (NWIDF), to assist in the development project known as the Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme (NAIS).
The A$155.6m would see a 60 per cent increase in recycled water available for agricultural use – an additional 12 GL of water from the Bolivar Waste Water Treatment Plant.
South Australian premier Jay Weatherill said the investment would create 3,700 jobs and add A$578m each year to the state’s economy.
“The Northern Adelaide Plains is already home to one of the largest covered vegetable cropping regions in Australia,” he said. “We must invest in the region now to ensure the horticulture industry has access to the large volumes of affordable, high security water it needs to increase production and attract new investment.”
The development of the NAIS is dependent on the outcome of a feasibility test conducted by the Australian government, with results expected mid-year. If funding is approved, construction will kick off later this year.
Leon Bignell, minister of agriculture, food & fisheries, said the project was part of a push to transform the Northern Adelaide Plains region into a premium, hi-tech food producer by providing access to affordable, reliable water.
“The state government wants to help secure large volumes of low-cost, high security water to lift the capacity and potential of the Northern Adelaide Plains region, for the long term viability of its food industries and the social and economic future of its communities,” Bignell said.
“We are also committed to supporting existing industry in the region to accelerate and expand high quality food production.”