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McLaren Vale company shows way

Malcolm Turnbull, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister with responsibility for water policy, visited WBWC's operations late in 2006

At a time when water use is in the national spotlight, a McLaren Vale initiative is showing the way on sustainable water use.

The Willunga Basin Water Company (WBWC) is at the forefront of water reuse with a state-of-the-art reclaimed water scheme, which provides local wineries and grape growers with a reliable, year-round, cost-effective water supply.

Purchased by Australian-owned water infrastructure specialists Water Utilities Group in October 2013, Willunga Basin Water delivers a role model for reclaimed water technology.

The company takes treated water from SA Water's Christies Beach Wastewater Treatment Plant, 10 kilometres north of the Willunga Basin and pumps it via 70 kilometres of pipeline to more than 80 users whose properties cover more than 1500 hectares.

The plant treats more than 10,000 megalitres (equivalent to 10,000 Olympic swimming pools) of wastewater each year and approximately one third of this water is used by the WBWC for irrigators. The remaining treated wastewater is pumped out to sea.

Willunga Basin Water, with the resources and capacity of its parent company the Water Utilities Group is focused on strategically expanding towards using most of the wastewater from the plant.

Willunga Basin Water delivers environmental value to the community through reducing discharge to the sensitive Gulf St Vincent marine environment and saving water that would otherwise be taken from underground aquifers and the River Murray.

Use of wastewater also gives the opportunity to 'drought-proof' an industry which is heavily reliant on water.

The scheme, first mooted in the early 1990s, benefits the community and the environment and serves as a catalyst for economic growth in the Southern Vales region.

Reclaimed water usage is sustainable and environmentally responsible."

The WBWC, which has a contract with SA Water until 2038, began construction of the pipeline in 1997 and it continues to expand.

Finding efficient ways to reuse water rather than flushing it out to sea will be crucial in future, especially in years of low rainfall.
Water is a commodity that is expected to rise steeply in value in coming years.