Managing farm dams for long-term sustainability

News article |

Did you know there are over twenty thousand dams across the Adelaide Hills and Fleurieu Peninsula?

Farm dams are important for providing water for agricultural production. Recently, there has been a number of illegal dams constructed and other issues with the maintenance of dams by landholders. Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board (Team Leader Water Resources), Paul Wainwright, is urging landholders to contact the Board for advice when planning to construct or modify dams on their properties.

“Dams are a common feature in the peri-urban and agricultural landscapes across the Adelaide Hills and Fleurieu Peninsula, providing essential water security and stability for crops, vines and livestock. Our team regularly fields a range of enquiries regarding new dams, or modifications and repairs to existing dams – all of which are considered water affecting activities. There is an application process involved when undertaking such activities and our team can help navigate that process.”

Water affecting activities are those that can impact access to water for neighbouring properties or other water users; or those that have adverse impacts on the health and condition of the ecosystems that depend on water. They include activities such as vegetation removal in dams and watercourses, diverting water flow, or depositing material or brine into a watercourse.

The Eastern and Western Mount Lofty Ranges Water Allocation Plans provide water entitlements for existing users, including public water supply from reservoirs, while mitigating potential impacts to sensitive water-dependant ecosystems. They also set out the rules for where new dams can be constructed.

“Applications are assessed against policies that protect downstream users and ensure water resources are shared between water users and the environment. This approval process also allows critical aspects of dam design to be considered, such as preserving low flows for vulnerable water dependant ecosystems. Getting dam maintenance right can help maximise on-farm water security. The board encourages landholders to reach out if they are planning to carry out activities around dams and watercourses,” said Mr Wainwright.

To find out more about water affecting activities, including permit application forms, call the Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board offices in Mount Barker (8391 7500) or Willunga (8550 3400)

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