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United call for strong action on drinking water in regional and remote SA

SACOSS together with a range of key groups have made a powerful joint statement on the need for the State Government to step up to ensure that all South Australians have access to safe, affordable, and secure water.

Their call comes as the State Government progresses work on its draft Water Security Statement for South Australia – the first major statewide strategy for water security for over a decade.

“Water is just simply fundamental,” said SACOSS CEO Ross Womersley. “People need access to safe, secure, and affordable water as one of the essentials of life. Communities need water to survive and thrive. And of course water also supports businesses, agriculture and industry."

“Unfortunately in some areas of South Australia, people are living without that most basic of necessities. This is not something that gets a lot of attention, unless an issue flares up in the media somewhere, but it is a day-to-day reality for some communities in regional and remote SA.”

“We are calling for a more ambitious vision which ensures access to safe, affordable and secure water supply for communities right across South Australia. We need a proactive plan, rather than dealing with issues in a reactive way when they arise or hit the headlines.”

“This is the moment to do something – to once and for all address the embarrassing state of affairs where some citizens in our state do not have access to clean, affordable and reliable drinking water,” he stated.

The recent ‘Falling through the gaps’ report commissioned by SACOSS and released in May, highlighted a gap in policy, planning and regulation in ensuring standards of water services in regional and remote communities in SA.

Now, in responding to the State Government’s draft Water Security Statement 2021: Water for Sustainable GrowthSACOSS, together with the Public Health Association Australia SA Branch, Australian Medical Association (South Australia), Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia, Doctors for the Environment Australia, Community Centres SA, Consumers SA and the Council on the Ageing SA, have united in a call for action and leadership.

The joint submission calls for:

  • Acknowledgement of the social, community and human rights imperatives of water security planning when considering ‘Water for Sustainable Growth’
  • The Water Security Statement to take a more ambitious and proactive leadership position in addressing drinking water supply challenges for regional and remote South Australia. This includes articulating a clear vision to ensure that all South Australians have access to safe water.
  • Investment to extend the scope of the planned stocktake of select self-supplied communities to gain a state-wide understanding of water service arrangements for regional and remote communities, both inside and outside of SA Water’s network.
  • The government to commit to developing a basic level of service for all South Australians. This would enable conversation between communities, government and service providers about how basic water needs can be met under all circumstances (drought and ‘normal’ times). Critically, setting a minimum bar which the state government agrees to not fall below provides a clear direction for long-term decision-making and policy decisions.

The submission also urges the Government to ensure that, until such time as sustainable access to safe water is established, clean and safe water be delivered to communities in need to provide short- and medium-term relief and ensure that no further negative health impacts occur in our most vulnerable communities from poor quality water.

The joint submission can be accessed here
About the draft Water Security Statement 2021
The State Government’s draft Water Security Statement provides an overview of water security status for key population centres and water resources across South Australia, and includes ten strategic priorities for water security to July 2024. The draft statement is the first state-wide update on water security since Water For Good, which was published in 2009. Consultation on the draft statement closed on Friday 18 June and the finalised statement is expected to be tabled in Parliament later in 2021.
21 June 2021

Published Date: 
Monday, 21 June 2021