Off-farm Efficiency Program

The Off-farm Efficiency Program is a $1.54 billion program designed to recover water for the environment.

Projects funded under the program will improve the efficiency of water delivery infrastructure and increase the volume of water available for irrigators and communities. They will also help us to reach our river health targets of returning 450 GL by June 2024. The Off-farm Efficiency Program invests in water delivery infrastructure to reduce water losses in the Murray–Darling Basin providing benefits to water users and the community by sharing the water saved between water users and the environment.

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 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:

  • State Led Off-farm, with $1.33 billion available to Murray–Darling Basin states for delivery of eligible off-farm proposals.
  • Off-farm Efficiency Grants Program, with $150 million available through the Australian Government’s Business Grants Hub to deliver project proponents’ eligible off-farm proposals.
  • State Led On-farm, with $60 million available for Murray–Darling Basin state delivery of eligible on-farm proposals.

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The Off-farm Efficiency Program PDF 5 9.1 MB
The Off-farm Efficiency Program DOCX 5 74 KB

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How can funding applications be made?

Applications for the state-led streams can be made to the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment by a representative of a Basin state government.

Applications for funding for the Business Grants Hub led Off-farm Efficiency Grants Program stream, which will open later in 2021, will be to the Australian Government’s Business Grants Hub. Information will be made available on GrantConnect.

Bridging the Gap

Funding may be available to support gap-bridging projects. Where a proposal is in a catchment where a gap between the volume of water currently extracted from the river system is higher than the sustainable limit and where that gap remains to be met. The department will consider these projects separately from the Program using the State Led Off-farm stream assessment process. For further information contact waterefficiency@awe.gov.au.

Stocktake of off-farm infrastructure concept proposals

In November 2020, the Murray–Darling Basin (MDB) Ministerial Council considered a list of off-farm infrastructure concept proposals that could address water losses, provide regional stimulus, and/or contribute to agricultural productivity. Proposals included in the stocktake that do not generate water savings are not eligible for funding through the Water for the Environment Special Account.  

The following list is provided with the consent of proponents.

Stocktake proposals

The department has not committed to fund any concept proposal from this list. We are currently working with Basin states to bring developed proposals and seek funding for those that meet the criteria through the Off-farm Efficiency Program.

Read our full list.

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Stocktake list PDF  10 181 KB
Stocktake list DOCX ​​​​​ 10 93 KB

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Approved Off-farm Projects

Program summary

Program summary (as of June 2021)

Total number of approved projects: 1

Total funding for projects: $177.5M

Total volume of water contracted to be recovered: 15.9 GL

Approved projects

Goulburn Murray Water (GMW) Water Efficiency Project

GMW is funded through WESA under agreement between the Australian Government and Victoria State Government. The project proposal was submitted to the Australian Government for funding consideration and announced on 4 March 2021 for $177.5 million with 15.9 GL/y Long Term Average Annual Yield (LTAAY) of water recovery.

The GMW WEP was developed, assessed and submitted to the Australian Government prior to the closure of the Water Efficiency Program.’ It complies with the agreed socio-economic criteria.

The GMW Efficiency Project is a fully developed project that will deliver modernisation and rationalisation works across the Goulburn-Murray Irrigation District (GMID).

This project will save water while also improving service delivery by:

  • modernising ageing water infrastructure and
  • decommissioning old channels.

This project will offer an economic boost to Northern Victoria while also meeting Victoria's obligations under the Murray–Darling Basin Plan.

The project is expected to benefit approximately 1,000 customers by modernising or decommissioning more than 250 km of channels and upgrading or rationalising more than 1,000 outlets.

For more information see the Goulburn-Murray Water website.

Last reviewed: 10 September 2021
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