A NSW Government website

Water Infrastructure NSW

Off-farm water efficiency program

About

The Australian Government’s Off-farm Water Efficiency Program (the program) is a $1.48 billion initiative to upgrade water infrastructure to reduce water losses and increase water available for the environment. The program has two streams, one being $1.33 billion for state-led projects and the other is $150 million for grants provided direct to applicants. A further $60 million is available for on-farm projects proposed by states that have strong community support and can demonstrate neutral or positive economic outcomes.

Projects funded under the program will provide long-term benefits to irrigators by improving infrastructure and benefit communities by increasing water availability and creating jobs.

The program aims to:

  • improve and modernise water delivery systems and reduce water losses to increase the volume of available water for the environment, irrigation networks, irrigators and communities
  • drive employment and create infrastructure opportunities for local communities through funding arrangements for suitable projects
  • deliver on the NSW Government’s commitment to the Murray Darling Basin Plan to contribute to the return of 450 GL to the environment by June 2024.

NSW will work in partnership with applicants across the Murray Darling Basin to deliver projects under the state-led projects stream.

Water Infrastructure NSW is looking to work with eligible industry applicants to identify  existing and new efficiency project opportunities. Eligible projects include those that involve works to irrigation networks, as well as urban, industrial and stock and domestic systems.

Funding

Applications for funding under the state-led stream of the program are open now and will be considered until 30 June 2023 subject to available funding. To receive a copy of the program guidelines contact us at winsw.programs@dpie.nsw.gov.au.

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 Agriculture, Water and the Environment 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.

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 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 against the Australian Government’s socio-economic criteria.

Contact us

Water Infrastructure NSW is keen to hear from potential applicants. Email us at:

winsw.programs@dpie.nsw.gov.au

The application process

The state-led application process for the Off-farm Water 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 assessment criteria 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.

Water Infrastructure NSW has established an expert panel to review proposals against the socio-economic criteria. The panel includes water experts from the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (the department), experts in socio-economic analysis both from within the NSW Government and an external expert, as well as an independent probity advisor.

Role of the expert panel

For every project proposal the panel will:

  • complete a review of the project proposal, with consideration of community feedback
  • apply the socio-economic test, using the socio-economic criteria
  • identify any areas that may be of concern for the NSW Government and/or suggestions for improvements to enhance the project application
  • provide an NSW Statement of Reasons identifying why NSW Government support is or is not provided for each application.

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 Resources and Water on whether to provide funding for the project.

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.

Summary of project proposals

Project Community feedback Project documents Community submissions NSW Government documents
Murrumbidgee Irrigation automation finalisation Submissions closed Sunday 3rd October 2021 Proposal of Murrumbidgee Irrigation automation finalisation (PDF, 1386.35 KB)--

Contact us

If you have questions or want to know more about the socio-economic outcomes of the project, email us or call 1300 081 047.

winsw.programs@dpie.nsw.gov.au