Light River Catchment

The Light catchment is located in the Mid North region of South Australia, approximately 50 km north of Adelaide and encompasses an area of approximately 1820 km2. It is one of the largest catchments wholly contained within South Australia.

The Light River starts in the Northern Mount Lofty Ranges above the junction of Tothill Creek near Waterloo. It flows south to past Marrabel to Hamilton, before flowing in a westerly direction past Hansborough before again flowing south to the junction with St Kitts Creek. It then flows in a westerly direction past Kapunda, Hamley Bridge and Mallala, before discarding to the sea between Dublin and Two Wells. Its main tributaries are Tothill Creek, Julia Creek, Freshwater Creek, Stockwell Creek, Allen Creek, Ross Creek, Fannel Creek and the Gilbert River.

Most of the catchment is used for dryland agriculture, with cereal, grain legume and canola cropping, as well as sheep and cattle grazing. In recent years low grazing returns have seen a swing to intensive cropping. This has placed increased pressure on the soil.

Unlike the Broughton and Wakefield catchments, the Light catchment has limited water resource development. This is largely due to the lower volumes of flow within the catchment and a groundwater system characterised by naturally low well yields and high salinities.

Historically, watercourses in the catchment have been used to water stock. The few dams are mostly in the upper areas of the catchment and little groundwater is extracted.

Despite minimal water use the watercourses have been modified considerably by land use practices such as vegetation clearance and grazing. This has affected the physical condition and ecological values of the watercourses, and recreational and agricultural use.

Catchment scale planning to identify and develop a strategic direction for rehabilitation and management of the Light River and its tributaries is essential to help protect water quality and sustain natural riverine ecosystems.