Why this project is needed

Increasing our use of groundwater from the Great Artesian Basin and the River Murray to meet our future needs is not an environmentally sustainable option. These current water sources cannot support our long-term economic growth targets. Water infrastructure in the Upper Spencer Gulf region needs to be expanded to enable growth. Project partners are investigating whether this project is possible and have commenced the environmental and economic studies needed to make that decision.


The project team is working towards an investment decision in 2023.

FEB 2022

Project partners are investigating the merit of this project and have commenced the environmental and economic studies needed to make an investment decision about whether to proceed.

MAR 2022 – JAN 2023

A business case is being prepared and environmental and economic studies are underway. Extensive stakeholder consultation is ongoing.


Investment decision to be made.

timeline graphic

Infrastructure under consideration

desalination plant icon

A new coastal desalination plant located in the region

pipeline icon

A new pipeline to take water to the north of the State

map showing approximate location of pipeline and potential end users

Economic benefits

Jobs growth in the region

Construction activity linked to new infrastructure will be substantial. New skills will be needed to support renewable energy activities in the region. Expanded mining, agriculture and horticulture activity will lead to more and diverse job opportunities. The services that support these sectors will also offer more job opportunities in the region and throughout South Australia.

Support for new and emerging industries

A new source of water will support the establishment of a hydrogen industry and the transition to green steel currently underway in the Upper Spencer Gulf.

Read about SA’s hydrogen action plan here

Supports growth of the mining sector in the State’s northern region

South Australia is fortunate to have significant deposits of copper and other critical minerals and these are in high demand worldwide because of the transition to renewable energy and electrified transport. Unlocking our copper resources requires secure access to water paving the way for South Australia to be a significant global exporter. BHP and OZ Minerals are both potential future customers, as are other miners who can benefit from access to water.

Supports growth in other sectors

Secure access to water means horticulture, pastoral, and agriculture activities can expand, diversifying and strengthening the economy in the region.

Environmental and cultural benefits

Good for the River Murray and the Great Artesian Basin

A new and additional water supply allows us to continue to focus our efforts on using water from the River Murray as efficiently as possible. This project will support ecological outcomes for the Murray Darling system and Great Artesian Basin for the benefit of future generations.

Support for green hydrogen and green steel

South Australia aims to be a global supplier of green hydrogen, capitalising on the reduced costs of solar and wind energy generation and technology advancements. The Upper Spencer Gulf is the likely location for a hydrogen hub in South Australia, and this requires a sustainable water source. Green hydrogen will support the transition to green steel production in Whyalla.

Support for the renewable sector worldwide

Copper is in high demand worldwide because it is a highly efficient electricity conductor and is used in renewable energy systems to generate power from solar, hydro, thermal and wind energy. Producing copper supports the renewable energy sector.

Social benefits

New and more jobs

Economic growth leads to new jobs in mining, industry and agriculture and the services that support those sectors in the region and in South Australia.

Career options for young people

New industries will offer young people greater career choices. Pathways for further education will be expanded, and the community will have the opportunity to develop the new skills required to support emerging industries.

Improved liveability

Economic growth will support the development of new businesses, recreational opportunities, and social infrastructure that improves the liveability of the Upper Spencer Gulf communities. A vibrant Upper Spencer Gulf will attract residents and visitors to the region. 

Have questions?

How long will it take to prepare a business case for this project?

The business case is expected to be completed by early 2023. Infrastructure SA will follow a detailed process to assess the merits of investing in infrastructure of this scale.

How much will this cost the SA taxpayer?

One of the objectives of the business case is to inform project costs.

What will the business case consider?

The business case will examine the potential economic and environmental benefits and limitations of this infrastructure project. It will include a comprehensive engagement process with the people and organisations who are interested in this opportunity.

Where will the desalination plant be built?

A site has not been selected yet. Infrastructure SA would expect a contemporary assessment of the environmental and social impacts of a desalination plant in any location. 

Will Point Lowly be considered?

Yes, along with other coastal and inland options. We are currently investigating what the viable options are and when we have narrowed this down, we will consult with those communities.

What about the cuttlefish breeding grounds?

A site has not been selected yet. The business case will consider the potential impacts to the marine and terrestrial environment.

What locations will be considered?

Work to assess location options is currently underway and will inform the business case.

How will Native Title and cultural heritage be considered in the context of this project?

Traditional Owners and Aboriginal people connected to Country are key stakeholders to this project and we are consulting with them to seek their input and ideas about how this project can best be delivered.

How can I contribute my views about this project?

Use the contact form at the bottom of this page to send an enquiry to the project team.

Send an enquiry to the project team

Tick the box if you would like the project team to keep you informed about this project.

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