Water Resources

Protecting Our Water

Australia is a land of boom and bust cycles, where years of above average rainfall are often followed by droughts. The level of rainfall experienced by the majority of the country is impacted on by the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), and is a climatic phenomenon that encompasses the entire Pacific Ocean, and the connecting landmasses.


What is an El Niño?

ENSO has a warming and a cooling phase, which is in reference to the temperature of the sea water in the eastern Pacific Ocean. A strong warming phase can lead to catastrophic droughts in Australia, like those seen in south-eastern Australia during the millennium drought, whilst a strong cooling phase (La Niña) leads to wild storms on the east coast of Australia, like the ones we saw in the summer of 2010/11.   


The following videos help explain the ENSO phenomenon:


El Niño


El Niño and La Niña | Cheat Sheet


What Exactly is an El Niño?


The following pages provide current ENSO updates and further information:


ENSO – The Bureau of Meteorology


El Nino – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration



Adelaide’s Water Supplies


The Murray River


The variability that naturally occurs in our climate can provide difficult challenge to water providers in Australia. Adelaide has a series of reservoirs that collect water during winter that can utilized in summer, and has historically also relied heavily on water from the Murray River. Water from the Murray is piped across the state to most population centres and has been unsustainably combined with the over-allocation of water from the system upstream. This has led to dire environmental consequences to the southern reaches of the river, which are described in the following videos:


Drought in South Australia


Drought Impacts on Lake Bonney


Fore more information on Acid Sulfate Soils please see the following link:


Acid Sulfate Soils


Huge amounts of information relating to the use and consumption of the Murray River can be found at the River’s dedicated website.


The Reservoirs


A major source of water for metropolitan Adelaide is the reservoirs around the Mt Lofty Ranges which when full hold up to 200,000 megalitres of water. The SA Water website has a great range of information from the history of water resources in SA,


The current water levels in our reservoirs.


SA Water Storage (Reservoirs) information


Waterproofing Playford


The City of Playford is helping to secure our local water resources through storm water capture and reuse by pumping treating storm water, and pumping it into underground aquifers in winter so it can be extracted and reused in summer. See the link below for more information:


Waterproofing Playford


The Adelaide Desalination Plant  


The desalination plant at Port Stanvac is designed to secure Adelaide’s water resources, after the severe shortages during the ‘millennium drought’. The plant uses a process known as ‘reverse osmosis’ to filter the salt from the fresh water, and produce water of drinking quality. Below is a short video which briefly summarise the project.


Adelaide Desalination Project



Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD)


WSUD considers efficient water use in the design of buildings and communities. The principles of WSUD activities are based on reducing water wastage and where possible re-using water through the integration of a range of water resources including rainwater, storm water, groundwater, mains water and wastewater. See below for resources regarding WSUD.


Water Sensitive Urban Design


Water Sensitive Urban Design (Adelaide Mt Lofty Ranges NRM Board)


Information about water sensitive urban design in SA



How can I help to protect our local water supplies?


Water resources can be protected by changing the ways we source it, use it, and recycle it.

The following resources provide you with information on how to save water.


The Interactive House and Garden game – Help the Flusher Family save water! (Great for Kids.)


Water conservation tips


100+ ways to save water




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