We’re keen to hear from businesses offering equipment hire or food and coffee services who’d like to be part of the vibrancy of South Australia’s reservoir reserves.

Coffee cart image from the opening of Hope Valley Reservoir

The first of South Australia’s reservoir reserves officially opened more than two years ago, in Myponga, and now thousands of visitors continue to flock to these unique spaces.

The opening of these beautiful places has been very popular. An average of more than 16,000 people are now flowing through the gates of the six publicly accessible reservoir reserves every month.

As South Australians look to enjoy the warmer weather, the reservoir reserves will become even more popular – especially as they’re continually evolving, with more exciting activities and facilities being opened up all the time.

Calls for first opportunities have now closed.

First opportunity – Happy Valley

Opening mid December 2021, the highly anticipated Happy Valley Reservoir Reserve provides an opportunity to begin your professional partnership with us.  We want visitors to have access to everything they need to really make the most of this unique site - from bikes and kayaks to food, snacks and refreshments.

Initially, we will provide opportunities for up to two food and beverage vendors and up to two equipment hire services, such as kayaks or bikes, to operate in a prime location inside this stunning new reserve. A power and drinking water connection may be available, depending on the service and site.

Things you need to know before applying

Everything you need to know to know about the process, including eligibility and assessment criteria.


To be eligible for consideration, you must be one or more of the following:

  • a private sector business
  • an Aboriginal Corporation
  • an incorporated association.

Applicants must be registered for GST and have an Australian Business Number (ABN) and public liability insurance to the value of $20 million.

We will not consider applications that:

  • present a risk to the ongoing protection of safe drinking water supplies
  • are contrary to the Conditions of Access for the Reservoir Reserves
  • require ongoing or recurring SA Water or South Australian Government funding to remain viable
  • are undertaken on behalf of third parties
  • are not compliant with relevant legislation
  • propose to encroach on areas or aspects of the site that are critical for SA Water operations, or that prevent visitors from accessing recreational areas.

Types of businesses we are seeking 

Expressions of interest are sought from commercial providers who offer:

  • coffee and/or food and beverage services, or
  • equipment hire services such as kayaks/canoes, fishing or cycling equipment.

Other commercial activities may be considered as a future enhancement to the reservoir reserve once opened to the public in mid December 2021.

Process and timeframe

  1. Open call for expressions of interest – applications close at 5pm, Friday 29 October 2021
  1. Assessment and selection of preferred applicants and negotiations with SA Water will commence from Monday 1 November 2021
  2. Successful vendors operating from Saturday 11 December 2021

Assessment criteria

We will assess applications against the following:

  1. The applicant’s capacity to enhance the visitor experience and visitor facilities at Happy Valley Reservoir Reserve when it opens in mid December 2021
  1. The applicant’s capacity to operate within the defined requirements outlined here.
  2. The activity proposed does not present a risk to SA Water’s provision of safe, reliable and affordable water services
  1. The activity proposed is consistent with the principles through which reservoirs reserves have been opened to the public, being:
  • Alignment to the ‘Enjoy. Explore. Preserve’ message and promotion of the health and wellbeing of active, thriving communities
  • Activities and proposals must be sustainable, and occur in harmony with the reservoir’s natural features while protecting the ecological and cultural heritage of these important areas
  • Offerings will be focused on facilitating public access, on an equitable and inclusive basis, for a broad range of users.
  • Activities support South Australia’s economy through support of nature-based tourism, including commercial enterprises, where appropriate

Access arrangements

Commercial providers are required to adhere to the  Conditions of Access which manage risk to visitor safety, security of SA Water assets and the safety of drinking water supplies.

Reservoir Reserves open to the public have defined opening and closing times, and no after-hours or overnight access is currently permitted.

Commercial vendors are required to adhere to the defined opening and closing times:

  • Standard time: 7:30am until 5:00pm
  • Daylight savings time: 7:30am until 8:00pm

To manage risk, Reservoir Reserves are closed to the public on all Total Fire Ban days, and may be closed for some operational activities, with the site closure extending to commercial vendors on these days.

SA Water maintains operational areas where no public access is permitted. Vendors are required to operate within the boundaries of the areas currently open for the public to access.

General requirements 

For coffee and/or food and beverage services 

  • A small number of licenses will be issued to operate on the site, with power, water, and sewer services likely to be available at limited specific locations, subject to negotiation. Interested parties should indicate whether they do not require, or are able to operate independently from, these services.
  • Any waste produced must be able to be self-contained and disposed of away from the Reservoir Reserve. Alternatively, if waste is required to be discharged into the sewer network, this must be through agreement with SA Water and a trade waste licence may be required.
  • Commercial vendors must follow all requirements of the Food Act 2001 and associated regulations, including the lodgement of the Food Business Notification form. Information about starting a food business can be found on SA Health’s website (www.sahealth.sa.gov.au)
  • All necessary external approvals, authorisations and/or registrations must be in place and your business be ready to commence operations, if approved by SA Water.
  • Evidence of strong sustainability principles will be viewed favourably, for example no single use plastics. Applicants must describe rubbish and waste management arrangements in their applications.
  • The commercial activity must complement the area open for public recreational access, supporting a positive visitor experience of the reserve, and remain within the operational footprint specified by SA Water
  • The expression of interest should include a detailed proposal regarding desired number of days of operation, typical times of operation, and any other information which may be helpful to understand the expression of interest.

For equipment hire services 

  • Items for hire include kayaking and canoeing equipment (including all associated personal flotation devices, paddles etc), fishing equipment and/or cycling equipment. Other items for hire may be considered in consultation with SA Water.
  • Applicants must:
  1. Describe in detail proposed hire service operations, including the type and range of equipment to be hired, and how hire operations would occur, such as bookings process and the maximum number of hirings per day.
  1. Describe the equipment/vehicles/materials required to support their commercial activity
  1. Proposed number of days of operation, typical times of operation, and any other information which may be helpful to understand the application
  • Defined types of watercraft are detailed in the Conditions of Access. Commercial vendors are required to adhere to those defined watercraft conditions.
  • No exclusive use to the site will be granted; other operators may also be permitted to operate the same or very similar service.
  • All necessary external approvals, authorisations and/or registrations must be in place and your business be ready to commence operations, if approved by SA Water.
  • The commercial activity must complement the area open for public recreational access, supporting a positive visitor experience of the reserve, and remain within the operational footprint specified by SA Water.

Risk management and Environment Plan

An Environmental and a Safety Management plan will be required as part of the licensing process. These will centre on protecting the environment and water within the reservoir reserve, as well as describing how you will manage all safety aspects related to operating your business.


Licenses will be granted for a six-month trial period initially, with a review provision and no guarantee of extension, and a licence fee will be payable.

Successful vendors are required to indemnify SA Water from all aspects of their service provision.

Agreements are subject to safety, environmental and water quality management requirements.