Environmental performance reporting

Sustainability Report 2005-2006

Department of the Environment and Water Resources, 2007

Policy and influence case study

Community Water Grants

The Community Water Grants programme provides grants of up to $50 000 generally and up to $250 000 under special criteria. The grants support community groups, individuals, and firms to undertake practical projects in water conservation, recycling and reuse.

The scheme was announced in 2004 and is part of the Australian Government’s five-year
$2 billion Water Fund (itself part of the National Water Initiative). It was intended to provide small grants for water projects that would be initiated by the community. These projects would serve both an immediate practical purpose (actual use reductions or reuse), but also work as demonstration projects to encourage further water action in the community.

To date, there have been two rounds of grant applications called for, with a third call for applications opening in early 2007.

Project proponents provide outlines of the initiative they wish to pursue, the cost of the works, and estimated water savings that will result. A database is used to track and collate these amounts. Project proponents who receive funding are required to provide quarterly progress reports, and also send in photographs that demonstrate what they are doing (these are used for communicating to the public).

The total value of projects funded in round one was $61 million, awarded to 1750 water saving projects. The estimated savings from these projects is 18 billion litres of water (equal to 18 000 community swimming pools).

Some of the groups and projects funded have included:

Successful round two applicants were announced in November 2006 and funded 1444 water saving projects totalling more than $61 million in funding. The estimated savings from these projects is 9 518 megalitres.

Servicing up to 5000 applicants and 1500 projects each round presents special challenges. Between rounds one and two, proposal assessment time comprised was reduced from five months to one month. Data management improved with the introduction of a fully integrated online application form. All applicants submit proposals via a web site largely straight into the programme database. These are assessed using computer scoring. Continuous improvement will result in this assessment time being reduced to days in round three.

The entire programme from application to final project reporting is controlled from a database managing contacts, risks and workflow. The database also holds a national set of community water consumption data that is used to benchmark water savings for schools and other organisations.

Having tackled the easier water management initiatives, the programme will target innovations in recycling to increase its community acceptance. By encouraging recycling the programme will also expose institutional barriers such as licensing, risk management and standards.