The Federal Government is dusting off South Australia's desalination plant as part of a National Drought Relief package.
The Coalition has announced the move with plans to divert 100 gigalitres of Murray River water to help struggling farmers, particularly in eastern states.
Built under the Rann Labor Government in 2011, the $2.2 billion infrastructure, designed for drought, has the capacity to produce up to 100 gigalitres a year but has barely been used.
The deal struck between State and Federal Governments aims to provide farmers enough water to grow fodder, silage, and pasture in order to produce 120,000 tonnes of feed for animals.
State Labor MP Susan Close has questioned the impact the move could have in the event of a dry summer for local farmers.
"The desalination plant is our water security insurance policy - it’s not there to bail out upstream governments from approving water efficiency projects," Susan Close said.
Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said it is a "dangerous precedent" to set with a cost burden on SA.
“Cutting SA’s river water allocation in favour of turning on the desalination plant is short-term thinking and I worry SA will be left carrying the can, with less water flowing downstream, higher water prices for Adelaide, and no political will to tackle upstream greed and over-allocation," Senator Hanson-Young said.
Call for More Meaningful Drought Action from Farming Movement
Farmers for Climate Action have called on the Federal Government to match their new Drought Plan with meaningful action to address global warming.
Concessional, interest-free loans for farmers and small businesses, funding for drought-affected councils and funding for improved water accessibility are features of the Drought Plan.
With more than 11,000 scientists declaring a climate emergency this week after analysing 40 years of data, the group said that conducting business as usual is not the best way forward.
Photo of Port Stanvac Desalination Plant by User:Vmenkov, Wikimedia Commons