Loading. Please wait...
1800 252 758

Using Surface Water in Farming

Using Surface Water in FarmingSurface water is the common term used to describe water that can be found above ground on the land. Common sources include water from rivers and creeks or a water reservoir such as a dam or lake. This water is replenished from rainfall and run-off flowing into valleys and natural folds in the land.

Usage Rules and Regulations

Surface water is a limited resource so each state government in Australia have their own rules regarding its use, especially if taken from water ways and non-privately owned sources.

These rules ensure the sustainability of the water and exist to protect the environment and wildlife as well as other landowners who might depend upon the water supply also.

To make use of surface water you may need to enter into a water agreement with the state government or local water authority and obtain a licence that entitles you to use up to a certain amount of water.

Accessing and Storing Surface Water

Surface water is normally pumped from rivers and creeks to properties through pipes that lead to your property where it is needed. Depending upon the dryness of a season, quantity of water available and evaporation rate, it may be a good idea to keep some of your surface water in a backup water tank.

To aid in delivering water to where it is needed on your property you have the following options:

  • Pressure pump system – pumps can either be powered by electricity, windmills, solar or fuel (petrol and diesel). You will need to decide which is the best setup for your needs. Electricity and fuel powered might be less expensive initially, but more costly over time. Compared to windmills and solar powered pumps which may cost more upfront but are more cost-effective over time.
  • Gravity feed system – if your water supply is located higher than where you will use the water, you could implement a gravity feed system, which uses gravity to move the water without the need for electricity.
  • Header tank – these are located on higher ground or a platform and uses gravity to pressurise the water and deliver it to where it is needed. You will still require a pump to fill the header tank, but the header tank system reduces the workload of your pump, saving energy costs.

Surface Water Quality

Surface water should always be tested and treated as necessary before using with irrigation, stock, household or other farm activities. Problems that would otherwise result include poor plant growth, blocked irrigation and/or stock water pipes, or sickness and even death of livestock.

Testing your water in an accredited laboratory will help you identify any water quality problems that need correcting. Problems may be chemical or organic or physical and issues may surround pH levels, iron, hardness, corrosion, salinity, sodicity, turbidity, algae, bacterial growth and colour, taste and odour. For more information, read our related article “Evaluating the Quality of Your Farm’s Water Sources”.

Clark Tanks work closely with many farmers to supply reliable water storage with fittings appropriate to your water source and usage. If you have found this article helpful, why not contact us today to discuss your needs.


Download – Using Surface Water in Farming