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National Water Infrastructure Development Fund

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Applications for Expressions of Interest for feasibility studies through the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund are now closed.

The National Water Infrastructure Development Fund (the fund) implements the Australian Government’s commitment to start the detailed planning necessary to build or augment existing water infrastructure, including dams, pipelines or managed aquifer recharge. This will help secure the nation’s water supplies and deliver regional economic development benefits for Australia, while also protecting our environment.

The fund was announced in t​he White Paper on Developing Northern Australia and the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.

Structure of the fund

The $509.5 million fund has two parts: the feasibility component ($59.5 million) and the capital component ($450 million).

Feasibility component

Applications are now closed for Expressions of Interest (EoIs) from state and territory governments for feasibility studies through the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund.

Summaries of studies funded under the feasibility component will be made available at a later date.

Funding for the capital component will be available from 2017-18.

​Announced projects

A number of projects have been identified in the White Paper on Developing Northern Australia for immediate support. The Australian Government will commit:

  • up to $15 million for CSIRO to undertake water resource assessments to determine available water and best locations for water infrastructure in the Mitchell River catchment (Queensland), the West Kimberley (Western Australia) and the Darwin region (Northern Territory)
  • up to $5 million each for detailed examinations of the economic feasibility of Nullinga Dam (Queensland) and Ord Stage 3 development (Western Australia/Northern Territory), including examination of soil salinity in the Ord.

Capital component

Funding of $450 million will be available to construct water infrastructure in partnership with state and territory governments and the private sector, including a component for northern Australia of approximately $170 million. This funding will be available from 2017-18.

Further information will be made available once arrangements are finalised.

Questions and answers

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When will feasibility studies be announced?

Assessment of the expressions of interest will be undertaken in March 2016, with successful feasibility studies announced from May 2016. Successful project summary information will be published on the department’s website.

When can I apply for funding to commence construction?

Funding for construction costs is available from 2017-18 under the capital component of the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund.

Arrangements for this fund are currently being developed and will be released later in 2016.

Must I have received funds for a feasibility study to be eligible for capital funding to build water infrastructure?

No. To be eligible to apply for capital funding, you do not have to have received funding through the feasibility component of the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund.

The arrangements for the capital component of the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund are currently being finalised and will be released later in 2016. Capital funding for the construction of water infrastructure is available from 2017–18.


The fund follows the release of the Water Infrastructure Options Paper by the Water Infrastructure Ministerial Working Group. This group confirmed that the Commonwealth can play a valuable role in supporting water infrastructure projects that:

  • have strong state support
  • are in the national interest
  • deliver net economic and social benefits and broader public benefits.

Water infrastructure must be built to the right scale, at the right time, with sufficient demand and with the right supporting infrastructure, such as roads. Early planning is necessary if major infrastructure proposals are to be properly considered to meet future demands.

The initial funding for feasibility studies will help governments and industry make decisions based on evidence about the best sites for new water infrastructure, and accelerate the completion of thorough business cases. Feasibility assessments will confirm sufficient demand from users to meet the ongoing costs of water supply, so farmers are not burdened with ongoing operational and maintenance costs they cannot afford over the longer term.

The funding component for northern Australia recognises its unique circumstances, especially the lack of water resource assessments at catchment level, which are a barrier to water infrastructure development. In contrast, southern Australia has an extensive range of scientific and technical research available, and generally has the necessary supporting infrastructure and functioning water markets in place. ​


Related documents

Last reviewed:
04 May 2016