Murray-Darling Basin Water Infrastructure Program

​​​​​The Murray-Darling Basin Water Infrastructure Program was announced​ by the Hon. David Littleproud, Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources on 13 July 2018.

The program will fund projects across the Basin to recover water for the environment.

The Australian Government is now seeking tenders for projects and delivery partners​.

The Australian Government is committed to the delivery of The Basin Plan 2012 (Cth) (the Basin Plan) on time and in full. As part of this, the government has been working with irrigators and the agricultural industry to implement better, more efficient, irrigation infrastructure to reduce water consumption and sustain the Murray-Darling Basin and its communities. The government has learnt about what works and what doesn’t from those in the Basin, the scientific community, governments and the Australian public. This has led to the design of a new program to help address concerns and meet the requirements of the Basin Plan.

The Murray-Darling Basin Water Infrastructure​ Program (the program) is the new Basin-wide water infrastructure program funding water recovery across the Basin. Through this program, water contributions will be made to finalise Bridging the Gap for the Sustainable Diversion Limit and for the 450 GL of efficiency measures required under the Basin Plan with neutral or positive social and economic impacts.

Program Overview

The Program is funded by the Australian Government. Projects will be managed by Delivery Partners acting for water rights holders or directly with water rights holders as Project Partners.

  • Project Partners are water rights holders or agents working with the water rights holder who directly enters into an agreement with the government to deliver an approved water efficiency project valued at $1 million or more.
  • Delivery Partners are organisations which provide project management and implementation services for water rights holders who wish to develop and deliver water efficiency infrastructure projects. Individual projects may be valued at more or less than $1 million.

The evaluation of proposed efficiency projects will take into account the contribution the proposed water savings would make to the enhanced environmental outcomes set out in Schedule 5 of the Basin Plan.

General rules for participation:

  • Any water users holding eligible water rights within the Basin may apply for funding for urban, industrial, off-farm and metering projects
  • On-farm projects will also be eligible in Queensland, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory
  • Projects must be valued at $1 million or more to be undertaken by a Project Partner. These projects can also be delivered through a Delivery Partner
  • Projects valued at less than $1 million will be delivered through a Delivery Partner
  • In return for funding water efficiency infrastructure projects, participants transfer an agreed volume of water savings to the Commonwealth in the form of eligible water rights
  • Any additional water savings generated by the infrastructure upgrades can be retained by the program participant

Maximum funding for each project will be calculated at 1.75 times the market price of the water rights transferred to the Commonwealth

Projects will have neutral or positive socio-economic outcomes.

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A summary of the program has been compiled for download:

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Eligible Projects

Eligible projects for this program are broadly in the categories of urban, industrial, off-farm, metering and on-farm. A project may receive funding for water efficiency activities that generate water savings. This includes, but is not limited to:

Urban Water Efficiency Projects

  • constructing, replacing, upgrading, improving, or refurbishing bulk water infrastructure such as water filtration plants
  • improving management of bulk water supply
  • upgrading, improving and/or refurbishing bulk water transport and/or distribution infrastructure
  • constructing, replacing, upgrading, installing, improving, or refurbishing filtration and/or water treatment infrastructure
  • constructing, replacing, installing, upgrading, refurbishing and/or improving the operation of urban water delivery infrastructure
  • improving systems for monitoring and predicting leaks
  • replacing surface water with fit-for-purpose water delivered from alternative supplies
  • constructing, replacing, installing, upgrading, improving or refurbishing stormwater and waste-water capture and quality improvement infrastructure
  • constructing, replacing, installing, upgrading, improving or refurbishing sewage treatment facilities
  • constructing, replacing, installing, upgrading, improving or refurbishing stormwater and waste-water reuse infrastructure and/or devices including stormwater harvesting, management and reuse
  • improving management, use and/or integration of urban water sources
  • constructing, replacing, upgrading, installing, improving or refurbishing water sensitive urban design infrastructure and/or landscaping
  • constructing, replacing, installing, upgrading, improving and/or refurbishing water efficient devices and/or technology
  • installing alternative household and/or community water supplies
  • metering and/or pressure management
  • reducing demand through demand management.
  • undertaking water audits and/or offering rebates
  • water efficiency installation scheme for houses in a local government area
  • consolidating and/or returning water entitlements where existing available water is no longer required for urban or other use
  • improving economic regulation, competition and/or governance arrangements that lead to an increase in efficiency, availability, effectiveness and/or sustainability of the urban water sector such as improving the organisational capability to administer delivery of the services
  • other activities improving the water efficiency of a water delivery system.

Industrial Water Efficiency Projects

  • replacing water supply with fit-for-purpose water delivered from alternative supplies such as greywater treatment and reuse or stormwater harvesting, management and reuse
  • constructing, replacing, installing, upgrading, improving and/or refurbishing water efficient devices and/or technology
  • upgrading, improving and/or refurbishing production/manufacturing equipment to increase water efficiency
  • changing the water efficiency of the goods produced to improve their water efficiency
  • changing production practices to more water efficient production methods
  • changing production practices to produce more water efficient goods
  • decommissioning of infrastructure
  • other activities improving the water efficiency of a water delivery system.

Off-farm Irrigation Infrastructure Projects

  • installing new or upgrading existing irrigation infrastructure and associated technology/infrastructure for water delivery, for example:
    • improving/lining and/or reconstructing channels
    • replacing channels with piping systems
    • repairing or replacing pipes and pumping infrastructure
    • in line storages
  • installing new or upgrading existing irrigation infrastructure or technology, such as automated water management systems and sensing equipment intended to improve efficiency through better decision-making about supply of water, for example:
    • installation/upgrading of flow control regulators, remote sensing and telemetry control systems
    • system automation and control (including computing equipment, telemetry systems, etc.)
    • improving management and measurement points, with intermediate automated control stations coupled with appropriate on-stream or off-stream storage facilities
    • installing meters that meet national standards
  • installing piping for stock and domestic water supply purposes
  • installing new or upgrading associated technology/infrastructure for water delivery, for example:
    • power supply systems and/or electrical works
  • costs to permanently decommission sections of a water delivery system identified for closure, for example:
    • earthworks to fill decommissioned channels
    • removal of pipes or channel off-takes
    • acquisition of water entitlements from irrigators retiring from irrigation as part of a channel rationalisation process, stock and domestic schemes for retiring irrigators, and removal of on-farm irrigation layouts.
  • computing/automation equipment to help manage farm water delivery operations
  • other activities that improve the water efficiency of a water delivery system.

Metering

  • connection to a Pattern Approved water metering system that meets the Australian Standard 4747
  • removal of existing meters
  • removing existing foundations (if necessary)
  • installing new foundations (if necessary)
  • purchasing (approved compliant) meters
  • connecting power or solar supply as required
  • installing new pipe connections to the meter
  • installing meters.

On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Projects


    Note: On-farm projects will be eligible in Queensland, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory.

  • installing new or upgrading existing irrigation infrastructure and associated technology/infrastructure for water delivery, for example:
    • pressurised, overhead, spray or surface drip systems
    • surface/gravity (flood) and pipe and riser irrigation systems
    • improving irrigated area layout or design, including laser/GPS levelling, reshaping embankments or other land forming
    • water filtration, fertigation or dosing systems
    • water re-use/drainage/recycling systems (including hydroponics)
    • water storage systems (including sub-surface storages) – improving/reconfiguring
    • soil moisture and water level monitoring equipment (gauges, sensors, probes, etc.)
    • improving/lining and/or reconstructing channels
    • replacing channels with piping systems
    • repairing or replacing pipes and pumping infrastructure
    • mainlines
  • installing new or upgrading existing irrigation infrastructure or technology, such as automated water management systems and sensing equipment intended to improve efficiency through better decision-making about supply of water, for example:
    • installation/upgrading of flow control regulators, remote sensing and telemetry control systems
    • system automation and control (including computing equipment, telemetry systems, etc.)
    • improving management and measurement points, with intermediate automated control stations coupled with appropriate on-stream or off-stream storage facilities
  • installing piping for stock and domestic water supply purposes
  • improving the water efficiency of a farm, for example:
    • developing a Farm Irrigation Modernisation Plan
    • to deliver water savings without detrimental environmental or cultural/Indigenous heritage impacts
    • water-saving soil treatment/mulches
    • increased night watering
    • netting or windbreaks,
    • temperature mitigation strategies to reduce overwatering
    • frost protection measures that reduce watering needs
    • soil treatments that improve water holding capacity and nutrients/quality such as manuring, fertilising, composting, pH treatments, etc
    • water harvesting
    • reconfiguring or diversifying crops, or changing cropping times to reduce water use
    • changing to non-irrigation production systems
    • changing water supply from river water to recycled, desalinated or groundwater
  • changes to farm production systems that increase production using less water, such as a glasshouse or shedding dairy cows
  • changing land or environmental management
  • transforming to intense production systems
  • permanent plantings that improve water efficiencies, such as:
    • water efficient root stock
  • installing new or upgrading associated technology/infrastructure for water delivery, for example:
    • power supply systems and/or electrical works
  • costs to permanently decommission sections of a water delivery system identified for closure, for example:
    • earthworks to fill decommissioned channels
    • removal of pipes or channel off-takes
  • installing new or upgrading existing farm water-related infrastructure, for example:
    • energy efficiency components such as solar power systems
    • structures to protect your equipment eg pump housings
  • computing/automation equipment to help manage farm watering operations
  • other activities that improve the water efficiency of a water delivery system.

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In accordance with the Basin Plan, a comprehensive list of eligible projects has been compiled for download:

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Eligible Water Rights

To be considered eligible water rights for this program, these conditions must apply:

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

The most common form of an eligible water right is a water access entitlement, such as a South Australian River Murray Class 3a Water Access Entitlement.

Approach to water valuation

The department has published the approach it will use to determine the market value for eligible water rights under the program. The approach can be downloaded using the link below.

The approach will:

  • determine a market value for each eligible water right, that reflects contemporary market prices and recognises changes in market conditions;
  • inform the department’s evaluation of project proposals, in particular, their value for money by determining the maximum price the department is willing to contribute for a given project (funding for projects will not exceed 1.75 times the value of the water entitlements to be recovered); and
  • provide greater transparency for the development of potential proposals by Project Partners and Delivery Partners, in particular, for determining project values.

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The department’s policy on water valuation has been compiled for download:

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How to apply

Participants will apply through a tender process under two broad categories:

For information on how to apply please visit respective tender pages. More information is available at the Program tender webpage.

Approved Delivery Partners

The department will publish the details of all approved Delivery Partners and a link to their website. In addition, successful Delivery Partners details may be published on AusTender.

Approved Projects

The department will publish the details of all approved projects under the program. In addition, successful project details may be published on AusTender.

Details of successful projects to be published will include:

  • Name of the project owner
  • Name of Delivery Partner (if applicable)
  • Start date
  • End date
  • Program Stream
  • Location
  • Value of the Project
  • Water price per megalitre
  • Volume of water (nominal)
  • Volume of water (Long Term Average Annual Yield)

Questions

In the first instance, please refer to the Request for Tender documentation located on AusTender:

The department has compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions for your convenience below.

If you have any questions relating to the tenders after this, please submit via email only to to Procurement helpdesk. Telephone enquiries will not be taken.

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A list of frequently asked questions has been compiled for download:

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Murray-Darling Basin Water Infrastructure Program – frequently asked questions PDF

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