High Demand in the Eastern Mount Lofty Ranges
The Eastern Mount Lofty Ranges (EMLR) is a great place to live, work and visit. It is an important area for food, fibre and wine production in this state, and contains areas of natural beauty and important ecological function. There are many ways that we can maintain and improve the EMLR to benefit current and future generations. One of these is through the responsible management of our water resources.
Everyone who uses water knows how important it is as a resource. A water allocation plan (WAP) sets limits (called consumptive use limits) on how much water is available for licensed and non-licensed use to ensure that water resources are sustainable for all water users, including the environment.
In some areas of the EMLR, demand for water is higher than the amount of water available for sustainable extraction and use. These are called high demand zones. The demand for water in these zones comes from a combination of licensed use, non-licensed use (e.g. using water for stock and domestic purposes), commercial forestry (in some areas) and water lost to evaporation from dams.
Water resources in high demand zones are declining in quantity and quality, or are at serious risk of decline if all licence holders use their full water allocations. Managing the demand for water from all groundwater, watercourse and surface water sources is critical to the long term health of the water resource and the catchment.
The goal for managing high demand zones is to bring the demand for water back to sustainable limits in a way that has the least impact to the environment, businesses and the community. The community will be invited to get involved and help define the most appropriate strategy to achieve this goal.
The Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board will work with the community, business and the Department for Environment and Water to find solutions to reduce demand to a sustainable level and protect our water resources now and for the future.
Identification of high demand zones
Areas of high demand have been identified by reviewing the amount of water allocated to water licence holders and the amount of water required for stock and domestic purposes, commercial forestry, and water lost to evaporation from dams.
Management zones have been rated as low, medium, high or very high risk depending on the level of risk that demand for water poses to the water resources, and the users and ecosystems that depend on them. Zones rated as low risk are not high demand zones – in these zones the demand for water is within the sustainable extraction limit.
Maps showing the location and risk categories for EMLR management zones have been prepared for Surface water and Groundwater. The risk ratings for surface water management zones assume that low flows will be restored to surface water catchments in the EMLR.
What are the impacts of high demand?
High demand can impact on the availability and quality of water for all water users as well as water dependent ecosystems including fish populations and migration, lower Angas-Bremer red gum swamps, and critically endangered Fleurieu Peninsula swamps.
Managing high demand for surface water (dams and watercourses)
Most of the high and very high risk surface water high demand zones are located in the Angas and Bremer catchments, where the current focus is securing low flows through the Flows for the Future Program.
There are thousands of dams capturing water in the EMLR but not all of these dams are required for primary production. Funding may be available for dam reduction or removal in the Angas and Bremer catchments.
Trading water allocations out of high demand surface water management zones is encouraged. This could assist in managing high demand in these zones while ensuring that the licensee receives the financial benefit from this. For information about water trade see Water trading in the EMLR fact sheet
Managing high demand for groundwater
The Tookayerta Permian, Currency Limestone and Angas Kanmantoo groundwater systems are very high risk high demand underground water management zones that are the primary focus for managing high demand for groundwater. The communities in these zones will be consulted about possible solutions for reducing demand in these zones with least impact to the environment, businesses and the community.
Trading water allocations out of high demand groundwater management zones is encouraged. This could assist in managing high demand in these zones while ensuring that the licensee receives the financial benefit from this. For information about water trade see Water trading in the EMLR fact sheet