6 Dec 2008

South Australia buys water

8:02 am on 6 December 2008

Australia's driest state is buying more water amid fears it will run out next year.

South Australia said it has spent tens of millions of dollars to ensure Adelaide, Australia's fifth-largest city, and the state had enough water.

State Premier Mike Rann described it as a "prudent and sensible" measure.

Drought is a regular occurrence in South Australia, which already receives the least rainfall of any Australian state.

Lack of rainfall and a sharp reduction in the amount of water flowing into the Murray River meant the state could not guarantee water levels for 2009.

State water security minister Karlene Maywald said she has purchased 61 billion gallons (231 gigalitres) of extra water for 2009.

Some of it comes from shared water resources with New South Wales and Victoria states, while the rest was purchased on the water trading market.

The ABC reports water levels in the Murray Darling basin - which produces 40% of the country's fruit, vegetables and grain - are at critically low levels.

Ms Maywald said the region had sufficient water needs for this year, but had not yet accumulated enough for 2009-10.