Who is eligible for funding under the program?
The program is open to individuals and entities in the irrigation, urban and manufacturing sectors across the Murray Darling Basin for projects that will achieve water efficiencies and return water to the environment.
Visit the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water website for more information.
What types of off-farm projects are eligible for funding?
The following types of projects are eligible to apply for funding under the program:
- Irrigation networks: installing new, or upgrading existing, irrigation infrastructure and technology in water delivery networks to supply water to irrigators, including permanently decommissioning inefficient or underused sections of a water delivery network
- Industrial or mining: constructing, replacing, upgrading, installing, improving, or refurbishing industrial water uses, including reducing leakage, for the purpose of using water for producing goods and services
- Urban: constructing, replacing, upgrading, installing, improving, or refurbishing urban water supply arrangements, including reducing leakage for the purpose of urban water supply
- Stock and domestic: improving stock and domestic water supply on one or more properties for the purpose of watering stock and supplying water for human use.
Feasibility funding is available to help identify early project opportunities to reduce water losses and increase water available for the environment in the Murray-Darling Basin. This can include investigations into improving infrastructure, confirming water losses and savings, informing the potential costs of construction, and supporting formal discussions with stakeholders.
Are on-property projects eligible for funding?
Some on-property projects are eligible such as the installation or replacement of pipes, tanks and troughs for stock and domestic systems These are considered ‘off-farm’ activities as stock and domestic water entitlements are not tradeable and do not impact the water market.
Individuals or organisations proposing on-property stock and domestic projects to improve water delivery and reduce water losses are encouraged to contact email@example.com for more information.
How we can help?
Water Infrastructure NSW will work with applicants to develop water efficiency concepts into project proposals that can be considered for funding by the Australian Government. This may range from expert advice and coordination, through to on-ground support with application development and management of projects.
All full-project applications will require a ‘letter of support’ from the NSW Government to accompany applications to the Australian Government. The NSW Government will convene an expert panel to evaluate applications.
The application process
The application process for full projects under the Off-farm Efficiency Program requires NSW to apply the Murray Darling Basin socio-economic test for each project, seek community comment and provide this information to the Australian Government as part of the grant funding submission. This includes detailing the NSW Government’s support for the project.
The key elements of the socio-economic test are:
- the expected social, economic, environmental and cultural outcomes
- impacts on local community, region or state
- future viability of proponent businesses and irrigation districts
- benefits to regional economies in the short term (during project delivery) and long term (i.e. sustainable employment)
- impacts on water market, water prices and validity of water savings
- engagement with community and industry leaders
- improvements to business and community resilience to climate variability and drought.
Feasibility projects are assessed differently, as they don’t need to meet the socio-economic test. This test will be applied if/when a project proceeds to full-project proposal. The feasibility criteria considers ‘Case for Change’ and ‘Deliverability’.
Find out more about the feasibility criteria (PDF, 98.77 KB).
The Water Group has established an expert panel to review proposals against the criteria for full projects and feasibility projects. The panel includes water experts from the Department of Planning and Environment, experts in socio-economic analysis both from within the NSW Government and an external expert, as well as an independent probity advisor.
NSW-supported applications will be submitted to the Australian Government. The outcomes of the NSW Government’s review will form part of the application. The Australian Government will then assess the application and make a recommendation to the Minister for the Environment and Water on whether to provide funding for the project.
Feasibility applications do not require a socio-economic test or public comment process as this will be required if/when the proponent submits a full-project application.
To commence a feasibility application, applicants are encouraged to contact the Water group to discuss the proposal and the support required.
Have your say
It is expected that proponents have previously completed comprehensive community engagement as part of project development.
The 'have your say' process is open to all individuals and organisations that have an interest in the proposed project. The department will publish the socio-economic information of each project on this webpage and provide an opportunity for comment through either a feedback form or submission. Submissions will be shared with the project proponent and may be posted publicly on this page.
A report will be prepared to summarise the feedback received. This report will be provided to the expert panel as part of the NSW Government review process and may also be made publicly available on the department’s website.