The COFFIE program pilot in South Australia

​​Media release: New on-farm irrigation infrastructure pilot program kicks off in SA

The South Australian pilot of the COFFIE program is now underway. Project proposals can be submitted any time from now until 13 September 2019.

The delivery partner for this pilot is the South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board, to enquire phone 08 8536 5619. They will talk with irrigators about the options available under the program and help them develop project proposals. This includes ensuring that proposals are practically and technically feasible, and suitable for the irrigator and the property. Once funding is approved, delivery partners will work with irrigators to implement projects and manage their administration.

The process for developing and implementing a project under the SA pilot

Phase 1 – Developing a project proposal

Step 1: The South Australian Murray Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board works with an irrigator to develop a project proposal. Step 2: The NRM Board has the project proposal assessed by an Independent Approved Irrigation Professional to ensure the project is feasible. Step 3: The NRM Board submits the project proposal to us for assessment. Step 4: We either approve, request more information or reject the project proposal within ten business days. Step 4a: If more information is requested, an extension is granted and the delivery partner will have to resubmit an amended project proposal and return to Step 3. Step 5: If approved, we issue a signed Project Order to the NRM Board. 


Phase 2 – Implementing a project

Step 1: The NRM Board and irrigator sign a Works and Transfer Agreement and provide a copy to us. Step 2: The irrigator transfers the agreed water entitlements to the Commonwealth via the NRM Board. Step 3: The NRM Board informs the Department: • that all insurances are in place • that approvals have been obtained • of details of subcontractors carrying out the project services. Step 4: The project commences and construction begins. Step 5a: The NRM Board provides biannual progress reports to the Department. Step 5b: The Department conducts audits and work health and safety compliance checks of projects on a regular basis. Step 6: The Project must be completed within three years of the transfer of water entitlements. 


Am I eligible?

To be eligible for the pilot, irrigators need to:

  • demonstrate they are the registered owner of one or more eligible surface water entitlement/s in the South Australian Murray
  • be able to put forward a project that generates water savings of at least 2 megalitres.

Activities and items eligible for inclusion in a project

The project needs to include irrigation efficiency activities that make actual water savings of an equivalent volume (or larger) to the minimum water savings transferred to the Commonwealth. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • installing new or upgrading existing irrigation and water delivery infrastructure and associated technology / infrastructure
  • restructuring, reconfiguring or closing water delivery systems
  • improving irrigated area layout or design, including levelling and embankments, where it improves on-farm irrigation efficiency
  • rationalisation of individual irrigators within an irrigation infrastructure scheme, or
  • other activities improving the water efficiency of a farm or irrigation district or water supply, such as increasing the soil’s moisture holding capacity.

A project may also include activities/items improving farm efficiency, providing the cost of those activities/items does not exceed the limit of the project fee. For example:

  • energy efficiency components of infrastructure
  • equipment which improves farm productivity such as packing/pump sheds, fences, tractors or harvesting equipment
  • activities improving farm efficiency, management or income
  • connection to a water metering system compliant with the National Framework for Non-urban Water Metering (including interim standards), and/or
  • developing a Farm Irrigation Modernisation Plan.

Eligible activities do not include:

  • conversion to dryland agriculture or exiting agriculture where it is not part of making irrigation or a supply system more efficient
  • infrastructure changes that lead to an increase in water use beyond the irrigator’s existing entitlements, or
  • any other activities which do not meet the objectives of the program.

What funding is available for projects?

There is $15 million available in total for this pilot. For each project, the funding available is linked to the volume of water access entitlements to be exchanged. Funding will be up to 1.75 times the value of the total volume of water entitlements to be exchanged at the contemporary market price as determined by the department. Contact the South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board for more information regarding pricing for your proposal.

The current water value for eligible entitlements in the SA pilot of COFFIE is as follows:

StateWater Resource Plan AreaEntitlement typeValue
(per ML)
Maximum funding for
infrastructure (per ML),
excluding delivery partner costs
South AustraliaSouth Australian Murray3a$3,260$5,419.75

This water price will be updated when there is a significant change in water market values.

Where can I find out more and how do I apply?

Contact the South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board via Natural Resources SA Murray-Darling Basin on 08 8536 5619 for more information and their help in applying. They will work with you to develop a project proposal and then submit it on your behalf.

You can also download the program’s Guide for Participants for detailed information about eligibility for the SA pilot and what’s involved in developing and implementing projects.


DocumentPagesFile size
Guide for Participants: Commonwealth On-Farm Further Irrigation Efficiency (COFFIE) Program Pilot South Australia PDF ​ 27466 KB
Guide for Participants: Commonwealth On-Farm Further Irrigation Efficiency (COFFIE) Program Pilot South Australia DOCX 272.0 MB
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