• Rikki Lambert

Gawler River farms, housing at risk north of Adelaide as flood mitigation cost, timeline blows out


A South Australian MLC has warned that farms and housing north of Adelaide are at risk from funding inaction towards flood mitigation works in the Gawler River catchment.


SA Best MLC Frank Pangallo has told FlowNews24 that recent evidence to the Statutory Authorities Review Committee in state parliament from the multi-council body responsible for flood mitigation in the district has highlighted blowouts in the cost and timeline for substantive flood mitigation works:

"The cost of the project for the Gawler River will now be in the region of $40 million, up from the original $27 million in 2016.
"It will take up councils up to 3 years just to develop plans - in all, 7 years before anything is done."
"If I was living in a floodplain area, I'd be alarmed and quite angry.

Mr Pangallo highlighted that flood events had occurred three times in the last 30 years, and the last major flood event was in 2016 when the investigation into mitigation works began.


The Gawler River Floodplain Management Authority is a body supported by 6 councils in the catchment:

  • Adelaide Hills Council

  • The Barossa Council

  • Town of Gawler

  • Light Regional Council

  • Adelaide Plains Council

  • City of Playford

The SA Government has advised that in the last budget it allocated $9 million towards the project:

This initiative provides $9.0 million over the three years to 2022-23 for a range of Gawler River projects aimed at reducing flood risks across the northern Adelaide plains. It is envisaged that these projects will deliver new infrastructure to improve flood preparedness as well as reduce the risk and impact of flood damage to assets. The government will partner with local councils to deliver the full scope of works.

Minister Speirs previously stated:

"The 6 councils need to put money on the table and state and federal governments, I believe, will be willing to put contributions as well but it needs to be led by councils. Councils in the end are responsible for flood and stormwater mitigation.
"There has been an unwillingness for some councils to put money on the table and get an understanding of what their role is managing this multi-jurisdictional river."
"The buck really does stop with local councils ... I can't set a precedent where we bail out one council or one region while expecting other councils to pay for their stormwater management."

Mr Pangallo acknowledged that the South Australian government commitment, but said more needed to be done:

"It's really up to the state government to lobby the federal government and get some funding for it before we get a situation like we're seeing in NSW right now.
"The clock is ticking down, those growers, those food producers in this important foodbowl area of South Australia know that - and they're angry, they know these problems aren't being addressed in the way they should be."

The supporting Councils and GRFMA have been approached for comment.

Listen to the full interview on the FlowNews24 podcast player below: