A proposal to expand the use of recycled water for primary production in the Northern Adelaide Plains suggests there is the potential to create more than 5000 jobs.

The water would help produce crops in high-tech greenhouses which maximise production and water-use efficiency, while also minimising the requirement for water storage in winter.

The proposal was developed by a consortium of companies after SA Water called for Expressions of Interest to use an additional 20 gigalitres of recycled water from the Bolivar Waste Water Treatment Plant as part of the Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme.

The State Government, through SA Water, will now progress the consortium’s proposal to the feasibility stage and examine the potential economic and employment benefits of the proposal, with interim results expected by the end of 2016.

Results will be used to inform the State Government’s submission to the Federal Government to secure capital funding for the NAIS from the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund.


The consortium consists of South Australian firms Tonkin Consulting and Leed Engineering and Construction, and two of Spain’s leading water technology and horticultural companies, Valoriza Agua and New Growing Systems (a subsidiary of Primaflor).

Currently, about 17 gigalitres of recycled water from the Bolivar WWTP is supplied each year to about 400 customers through the Virginia Pipeline Scheme (VPS). 

SA Water will continue to explore opportunities to maximise benefits for all recycled water stakeholders in the Northern Adelaide Plains, including options for the future operation and maintenance of the VPS.

Quotes attributable to Water and the River Murray Minister Ian Hunter

This exciting proposal represents a huge economic opportunity for the State, with potential for significant local job creation and leveraging knowledge and access to international food export markets.

The proponent’s use of a greenhouse is a demonstrated concept for the use of recycled water for food production.

The international focus of the proposal aims to get South Australian produce on supermarket shelves around the world and will mean local growers are not impacted and existing local markets continue to be supported.

Quotes attributable to Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Minister Leon Bignell

The Northern Adelaide Plains Agribusiness Initiative is part of the State Government’s Northern Economic Plan, to help create jobs and boost the region’s economy.

Agribusiness can deliver transformational change to Northern Adelaide and we believe the region is perfectly positioned to become the premier intensive food production zone in the Southern Hemisphere.

This zone currently generates more than one-third of South Australia’s horticulture production, approximately 170,000 tonnes of fresh produce, valued at more than $340 million in 2014-15.

The availability of more recycled water will support significant economic and jobs growth and help grow South Australia’s premium food and wine industries even further.