The Clare Valley would increase its vineyard area by more than 30 per cent – or 1600 hectares – if additional irrigation water was available, according to a pre-feasibility study released last week by the Clare Valley Wine & Grape Association (CVWGA).
The Clare Valley Water Pre-feasibility report found immediate grower demand for 25pc more water, while a second pipeline to the region could increase water demand by up to 50pc, supporting both more vineyards and more water for current plantings.
The report found that in addition to increased future irrigation demand to support a further 1188ha of additional vineyard planting (five years) and 1597ha (10 years), a second Clare Valley pipeline could see the Clare Valley’s current irrigation use increase by up to 50pc, to 5335 ML (all water sources combined).
CVWGA chair Martin Ferguson said while recent interest in accessing water from the Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme (NAIS) was an initial driver for the study, the more viable option recommended was a project involving Bundaleer Reservoir (north of Spalding).
“Economic analysis of the NAIS and Bundaleer options indicates Bundaleer is the recommended option,” Mr Ferguson said.
“An alternate, viable source of water for the Clare Valley would underpin future investment in the region and enable economic growth throughout the region, not only for the wine industry but for agriculture more broadly.
“Either option could open up corridors to the north or south for new investment into other intensive agricultural industries. The potential is exciting.”
Mr Ferguson said funding was being sought to proceed to a feasibility study.
The full report considered 10 possible options for additional water and recommended the CVWGA start a full feasibility study to explore two potential solutions to the existing irrigation limitations impacting the Clare Valley.
The first, a wastewater option from the Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme (similar to the Willunga Basin Water company which takes water from Christies Beach Wastewater Treatment Plant); the second, a non-potable blend from Bundaleer Reserve (similar to the Barossa Irrigation Limited scheme, which takes blended river and surface water from the Warren Reservoir).
The two proposals included:
• Bundaleer (6GL). Non-potable blended product (Murray Darling Basin-+ local at 500ppm) and would require a 45-50 kilometre pipeline from Bundaleer, with 1-2 pumping stations across 120 metres of elevation at an estimated current capital cost of $78 million.
• NAIS (10-15GL). Recycled water (900-1300ppm), an estimated 87km pipeline, from near Roseworthy, with three pumping stations across 282m of elevation, at an estimated current capital cost of about $148m.
The report surveyed CVWGA members, with 76pc saying they did not have enough water.
A further 73pc of members said they would, or could, plant more vineyards if additional water was available.
The pre-feasibility study was undertaken by a consortia, led by Edge Environment, which oversaw the stakeholder engagement and demand analysis, and drawing on the engineering services of Inside Infrastructure and economic analysis of Marsden Jacob Associates.
The study was prepared with $50,000 of grant funding; $25,000 from the Department of Primary Industries and Regions through the South Australian Wine Industry Association’s Project 250 and $25,000 levy funding from the Northern & Yorke Landscape Board.