Off-farm Efficiency Program

The Off-farm Efficiency Program is a $1.48 billion program designed to recover water for the environment through off-farm water efficiency projects.

Projects funded under the program will improve the efficiency of off-farm irrigation infrastructure and increase the volume of water available for irrigators. They will also help us to reach our river health targets of returning 450 GL by June 2024.

Off-farm water projects are more effective in recovering water than on-farm water projects. This is due to their ability to:

  • improve infrastructure efficiency, protecting irrigators against a water constrained future
  • provide opportunities for environmental water recovery without taking water that is used for crops
  • take the pressure off irrigators to recover water through buybacks
  • achieve positive social and economic outcomes for communities.

The program is part of the Murray Darling Communities Investment Package. The package aims to put communities and jobs at the heart of the Murray–Darling Basin Plan. It will be funded through the Water for the Environment Special Account and includes:

  • $1.33 billion available for state-led projects to modernise irrigation infrastructure networks
  • $150 million available for Commonwealth-led direct grants for off-farm water savings projects that do not warrant Basin state involvement.

We have already started engaging with Basin states and irrigation networks to identify suitable projects. We are now working with Basin states on funding arrangements for state-led projects and we intend to open the Commonwealth-led direct grants component to eligible organisations in the middle of 2021.

Stocktake of off-farm infrastructure projects

In November 2020, the Murray–Darling Basin (MDB) Ministerial Council considered a list of off-farm infrastructure projects that could address water losses, provide regional stimulus, and/or contribute to agricultural productivity.
The following list is provided with the consent of proponents.

Stocktake projects

Read our full list.


Document Pages File size
Stocktake list PDF 9 162 KB
Stocktake list DOCX​​​​​ 9 124 KB

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

On-farm water infrastructure

We are shifting our focus to off-farm water infrastructure to help recover water for the environment.

The Water Efficiency Program is now closed and we will no longer be accepting any further applications. Any on-farm projects that are currently in progress under the former Water Efficiency program will continue to be assessed, or if approved, receive their full funding until they are completed.

$60 million is available for on-farm projects proposed by states that have strong community support and can demonstrate neutral or positive economic outcomes.

More details will be made available here in due course.

Last reviewed: 3 March 2021
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