Water Efficiency Program

​​​The Water Efficiency Program will deliver funding to upgrade water infrastructure in the Murray–Darling Basin.

Over $1.5 billion is available to improve water efficiency and deliver 450 gigalitres of water for the environment by 2024.

Water saving projects must demonstrate a neutral or positive social and economic impact for the community. Participants will:

  • implement the project as agreed
  • return an agreed volume of saved water rights to the Australian Government
  • keep any extra water savings that the project generates.

Project funding is up to 1.75 times the current market value of the water rights you will transfer. Read more about how we value water rights.

Register now

Check if you’re eligible to apply. You can either apply as a project partner, or through a delivery partner.

Learn more:

Who can apply

If you have held water rights for at least 3 years in the Murray–Darling Basin you may be eligible for funding.

An eligible participant is someone who:

  • owns an eligible water right
  • is capable of transferring that water to the Commonwealth under a contract to do efficiency works to achieve water savings.

You can apply as a project partner or through a delivery partner.

A project partner is:

  • an eligible water rights holder or their agent
  • with a project valued over $1 million.

If you have a project over $1 million, you can now register your interest. Make sure you meet all eligibility criteria before you register.

A delivery partner is:

  • an organisation, or local or state or territory government
  • who helps eligible water rights holders design and deliver their projects.

Delivery partners can manage projects of any size.

Water rights holders with a project under $1 million must apply through a delivery partner. We will publish details of all approved delivery partners.

The Department expects to tender for Delivery Partners later in 2019. The tender will be advertised on AusTender.

Eligible catchments

We will operate this program across the Basin, in all surface water SDL units.

Condamine–Balonne catchment

In the Condamine–Balonne catchment we will operate in:

  • Lower Balonne Water Management Area
  • Condamine and Balonne Water Management Area (CBU 01 – CBU 09)
  • Upper Condamine Water Management Area (below Cecil Plains weir)
  • Condamine and Balonne Tributaries Water Management Area (on a case-by-case basis).

Water rights

Eligible water rights are:

  • rights to exclusive access to a share of the surface water resources of a water resource plan area or other water management area
  • able to be permanently traded, or transferred, to the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder
  • free from encumbrances when the rights would be transferred
  • located within a water resource plan area identified in Basin Plan 2012 (Chapter 3, Part 2 s3.05 and s3.07)
  • owned by an Eligible Participant
  • suitable for use by the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder to achieve environmental benefits.

The most common eligible water right is a water access entitlement. For example, a South Australian River Murray Class 3a Water Access Entitlement.

Eligible projects

Projects must have neutral or positive socio-economic outcomes.

Projects must meet minimum water savings targets. These are:

  • generally 10ML for projects delivered by a delivery partner
  • 100ML for projects delivered by a project partner.

Delivery partners can seek approval for a 3ML target, only if water savings will be consolidated on their own licence and transferred in bulk.

There are five project streams. See examples of eligible activities in each stream.

[expand all]

Urban water efficiency projects

Includes:

  • reduced leakage
  • sewerage processing practices
  • stormwater capture and recycling.

Download the full list of eligible projects

Industrial water efficiency projects

Includes:

  • plant upgrades
  • processing or product redesign and implementation
  • water recycling.

Download the full list of eligible projects

Off-farm projects

Includes:

  • dams and water storage
  • stock and domestic pipelines
  • upgraded channel systems.

Download the full list of eligible projects

Metering projects

Includes:

  • flow regulation infrastructure
  • installing meters
  • upgrading meters to comply with the Australian Standard.

Download the full list of eligible projects

On-farm projects

Includes:

  • drip systems
  • replacing open channels with pipes
  • water-efficient root stock.

Download the full list of eligible projects

Download

Read our full list of eligible activities:

DocumentPagesFile size
Water Efficiency Program - eligible projects DOCX5788 KB
Water Efficiency Program - eligible projects PDF5172 KB

If you have difficulty accessing these files, visit web accessibility for assistance.

Register your interest

You can now register your interest to become a project partner for your water saving project.

Registration of interest is only for projects over $1 million. If you have a project under $1 million, you must apply through a delivery partner.

Learn more about how to register.

Water valuation

Read more about how we value water rights.

Our approach will:

  • establish a market value for each eligible water right based on contemporary market prices
  • help you develop your project proposal and determine likely project funding level
  • inform our evaluation of project proposals (particularly value for money).

Download

Our policy on water valuation.

DocumentPagesFile size
Water Efficiency Program – approach to water valuations DOCX3784 KB
Water Efficiency Program – approach to water valuations PDF3144 KB

If you have difficulty accessing these files, visit web accessibility for assistance.

Delivery partners

CAF Consulting

South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board

Approved projects

We will publish details of all approved projects.

Details will include:

  • a description of the project
  • program stream
  • location
  • estimated value of the project
  • type of water entitlement
  • unapproved estimated volume of water savings (nominal)
  • a description of the project’s socio-economic and environmental impacts.

Questions

Please submit any questions about the program to Water efficiency.

We will respond to emailed questions within 5 working days.

The Water Efficiency Program meets the requirements of the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council meeting on 14 December 2018 which agreed to additional socio-economic criteria and the associated assessment to be adopted for the program.

Read the Ministerial Council Communique.

Your feedback

In late 2018 we sought your feedback on additional criteria for water efficiency projects. This included public meetings, a webinar and an online survey. Read more about our consultation.