$1.5 billion for water saving projects in the Murray-Darling Basin

26 July 2019
  • $1.5 billion program to return water to the river system and make infrastructure more water efficient
  • Registrations now open for projects from eligible water rights holders
  • Projects need to pass socio-economic criteria agreed by Ministers in December

The $1.5 billion Water Efficiency Program kicked off today, with additional socio-economic criteria for water saving projects and water infrastructure upgrades.

Minister for Water Resources David Littleproud said projects would only be considered if they delivered positive or neutral socio-economic outcomes, as per the historic agreement between Basin Ministers in December 2018.

“We now move forward to recover environmental water whilst delivering positive or neutral social and economic outcomes, at local and regional level,” Minister Littleproud said.

“The Coalition proudly recovers water through projects which do not damage rural communities.

“Basin states play an important role in assessing the socio-economic outcomes of proposed projects, which will be made available for public comment. This will help inform the Commonwealth before projects are chosen.

“Water rights holders can register proposals for urban, industrial, metering, on-farm and off-farm water efficiency projects.

“I look forward to proposals coming forward so we can get on with delivering the Plan.”

The Water Efficiency Program is working with the independent panel assessing social and economic conditions in the Basin to decide on how best to monitor the outcomes.

Details of the Water Efficiency Program are available at www.agriculture.gov.au/waterefficiency.


  • All projects will be assessed against the social and economic criteria agreed by the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council in 14 December 2018.
  • Registration of market interest for water saving projects over $1 million is now open and will remain open until 31 December 2023
    • Proposals for over $1 million may be submitted directly (as a Project Partner) or through a Delivery Partner
    • Proposals under $1 million must be submitted through a Delivery Partner
  • The process:
    • Proposals will be assessed by relevant Basin governments.
    • Following in-principle approval by governments, the projects will be available online for public comment.
    • This will inform which projects may participate in a future limited tender process.
  • Eligible projects:
    • Water rights must be held for at least three years
    • Must deliver water savings of at least 10ML for Delivery partners or 100ML for Project partners
  • A Project partner is an eligible water rights holder or their agent.
  • A Delivery partner is an organisation approved by the Commonwealth to help eligible water rights holders design and deliver their projects.