As part of the Water for the Future initiative, the Australian Government has committed $5.8 billion to increase water use efficiency in rural Australia. Investment will be principally directed towards projects that:
- deliver substantial and lasting returns of water for the environment
- secure a long-term future for irrigation communities, and
- deliver value for money in the context of the first two tests.
The Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure program initiatives will also help irrigation communities make early adjustments in anticipation of the new Murray-Darling Basin cap on water extractions.
Activities under this program include:
Strategic Sub-System Reconfiguration in the Murray-Darling Basin
The Strategic Sub-System Reconfiguration in the Murray-Darling Basin program provides the opportunity for Irrigation Infrastructure Operators, in partnership with their customers, to seek financial support for projects which integrate water access entitlement purchases with the decommissioning and reconfiguration of shared water delivery infrastructure.
The Australian Government has allocated $200 million for the program over four years.
Funding for the non-water purchase elements of the program will be provided from the Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure program.
For more Information see: Strategic Sub-System Reconfiguration in the Murray-Darling Basin
Environmental Works and Measures Feasibility Program
Environmental works and measures allow our water managers to deliver better and more water-efficient environmental outcomes in the Basin's rivers and wetlands. Funding from Environmental Works and Measures Feasibility Program will assist Basin states and communities investigate projects with the potential to allow an increase in sustainable diversion limits set under the Basin Plan.
For more information see: Environmental Works and Measures Feasibility Program
State priority projects
Fifteen State Priority Projects were agreed to in-principle, under the 2008 Intergovernmental Agreement on Murray-Darling Basin Reform, including thirteen state-led projects and two Commonwealth-led projects. These projects are subject to due diligence.
For more information on projects which have been approved see: State Priority Projects
On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program
The Australian Government is providing $450 million for the On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program. The Program aims to assist irrigators in the Lachlan and southern connected system of the Murray-Darling Basin to modernise their on-farm irrigation infrastructure and return water to the environment.
The southern-connected system includes the New South Wales Murray, Victorian Murray, South Australia Murray, Murrumbidgee, Kiewa, Ovens, Goulburn, Campaspe, Loddon, Avoca, and the lower Darling (south of Menindee Lakes) river catchments.
For more information see: On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program
Strengthening Basin Communities
The Strengthening Basin Communities program is assisting local governments in the Murray-Darling Basin plan for reduced water availability and deliver associated local water saving initiatives.
For more information see: Strengthening Basin Communities
Irrigation Modernisation Planning Assistance
The Irrigation Modernisation Planning Assistance program provides an opportunity for Irrigation Water Providers to access funding of up to $350,000 to obtain independent professional expertise to assist in the identification and consideration of options for increasing the efficiency of their irrigation distribution systems.
For more information see: Irrigation Modernisation Planning Assistance
Irrigation Hotspots Assessment Program
This project developed a Technical Manual which outlines hotspots assessment methodologies to identify the nature, location and amount of water losses (known as "hotspots") in existing channel and piped irrigation delivery systems and to identify potential water savings.
For more information see: Irrigation Hotspots Assessment Program
Non-urban water metering
On 7 December 2009, the Council of Australian Governments agreed to redouble its efforts to accelerate the pace of reform under the National Water Initiative (NWI). It further committed to a National Framework for Non-urban Water Metering (the National Framework) to improve the accuracy of water metering.
The Metering Expert Group, comprising representatives from industry, state, territory and the Commonwealth governments has developed the National Framework. The National Framework came into effect on 1 July 2010.
For more information see: Non-urban water metering
Menindee Lakes Project
The Australian Government has made a commitment to invest up to $400 million to reduce evaporation and improve water efficiency at Menindee Lakes; secure Broken Hill's water supply; protect the local environment and heritage; and return up to 200 Gigalitres (GL) to the environment.
For more information see: Menindee Lakes Project
Supporting more efficient irrigation in Tasmania
Under the National Partnership Agreement (NPA) on Water for the Future the Australian Government has committed to provide up to $140 million towards supporting more efficient irrigation in Tasmania.
For more informaton see: Supporting more efficient irrigation in Tasmania
Harvey Pipeline project
The Australian Government provided funding towards replacing open channel irrigation delivery infrastructure within the Harvey irrigation district with a fully integrated piped system. Water savings from the project, which is complete, have been traded to the Perth integrated water supply system.
Gascoyne Pipeline project
The Australian Government is providing funding of up to $6.6 million toward construction of a high-pressure irrigation water delivery system throughout the Carnarvon Irrigation Area in Western Australia, to produce a more efficient irrigation distribution system. Best practice metering and telemetry controls are being installed, and an online water accounting, consumption and reporting system will be implemented.
Lithgow-Clarence Colliery Water Transfer project
The Australian Government is providing funding of up to $4 million to upgrade the Clarence Water Transfer System, allowing the increased use of excess water from Clarence Colliery. The project will improve the security of Lithgow's water supply by supplementing potable water supplies and offsetting water that would ordinarily be drawn from Oberon Dam.
A National Irrigation Efficiency Stakeholder Reference Panel has been appointed to provide a consultation forum on irrigation efficiency investments under the Australian Government's $5.8 billion Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure program. The panel members come from a broad range of irrigation methods and organisations, including rural irrigation practitioners, technical and research bodies, and private and government-owned irrigation water providers.
For up-to-date information about the Water for the Future initiative.