Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Gillard Government backs Murray-Darling Basin irrigation projects

Media release
6 July 2011

More than 600 irrigators in the Murray-Darling Basin will be backed by the Gillard Government to undertake projects to improve irrigation efficiency, with water saved to be returned to the environment.

Water Minister Tony Burke today announced delivery partners for the second round of grants under the Government's successful On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program which is helping irrigation communities boost efficiency in on-farm water use and returning more water to the environment.

Water saved is helping to 'bridge the gap' between existing water diversions and future sustainable diversion limits under a final Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

"I am determined to achieve a plan for the Murray Darling that delivers healthy rivers, strong communities and sustainable food production," Mr Burke said.

"We will continue to invest in infrastructure upgrades and improve the efficiency and productivity of our irrigation industry while we recover water for the rivers.

"In exchange for infrastructure investment, irrigators will transfer at least 50 per cent of the projected 68 gigalitres of water saved to the Commonwealth Water Holder to return to the environment.

"The balance of water saved as part of the projects will be kept by irrigators to help improve their farm production.

"This is a great example of how government and communities are working together to achieve reforms in the Murray-Darling Basin that help those communities plan for the future with confidence."

Nine regional organisations and irrigation businesses will share in $150 million in in-principle funding for projects to upgrade on-farm infrastructure in the southern connected Murray-Darling Basin and the Lachlan River catchments.

The organisations are the Ricegrowers' Association of Australia Inc, Lachlan Catchment Management Authority, Murray Irrigation Limited, Australian Processing Tomato Research Council Inc, Irrigation Efficiency Partners Pty Ltd, Northern Victorian Fresh Tomato Industry Development Committee, Fruit Growers Victoria Limited, Goulburn-Broken Catchment Management Authority and the South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resource Management Board.

They will work with individual irrigators to undertake projects including upgrading flood irrigation systems, converting to drip and sprinkler systems and installing soil moisture monitoring and automation equipment, with more than 600 irrigators expected to benefit.

The On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program is part of the Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure scheme under the Gillard Government's Water for the Future initiative. The first round of the program is supporting more than 350 irrigators to improve their irrigation efficiency.

Successful applicants with in-principle approval under the On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program – Round Two

Applicant State Number of
'In principle'
Ricegrowers' Association of Australia Inc. NSW 31 $7,846,000
Lachlan Catchment Management Authority NSW 2 $2,296,000
Murray Irrigation Limited NSW 184 $34,820,000
Australian Processing Tomato Research Council Inc. NSW/Vic 35 $23,133,000
Irrigation Efficiency Partners Pty Ltd NSW/Vic 12 $32,291,000
Northern Victorian Fresh Tomato Industry Development Committee Vic 9 $4,635,000
Fruit Growers Victoria Limited Vic 40 $6,370,000
Goulburn-Broken Catchment Management Authority Vic 209 $25,108,000
South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resource Management Board SA 100 $13,501,000

Further information is available at