State Priority Projects

July 2008 Intergovernmental Agreements Murray Darling Basin Reform

On 3 July 2008 the Australian and state governments finalised the Intergovernmental Agreement on Murray-Darling Basin Reform (MDB IGA) to secure a sustainable future for the Murray-Darling Basin:

Commonwealth-State Water Management Partnership Agreements have been executed with each of the Murray-Darling Basin States and the Commonwealth. These Agreements reflect the commitments made in the July 2008 MDB IGA.

The COAG Reform Council is responsible for assessment of the performance of the parties to the Agreements.

The body of the Agreements detail the terms and conditions, including setting out the process for:

  • approving and paying for projects that were agreed in principle in the MDB IGA for each Murray-Darling Basin State, once due diligence has been successfully completed
  • delivering against agreed reforms on identified dates and adding new water reforms
  • transferring the agreed water entitlements, specifying characteristics (e.g. being unencumbered and having characteristics of water access entitlements as set out in the National Water Initiative etc).

The schedules to the Agreements provide more specific information:

  • Schedule 1 – outlines agreed water reform actions to be undertaken by that State
  • Schedule 2 – contains a project schedule template which is the basis for developing separate project schedules for each State Priority Project for that State. Once project schedules are agreed between the State and Commonwealth, they will be incorporated into the Agreement
  • Schedule 3 – outlines the assessment process to be undertaken by the COAG Reform Council, and
  • Schedules 4 and 5 – outline reporting requirements and publicity protocols

For more information see the Water Management Partnership Agreements between The Commonwealth of Australia and:

Commonwealth led State Priority Projects

Private Irrigation Infrastructure Operators Program in New South Wales

The $650 million Private Irrigation Infrastructure Operators Program (PIIOP) in New South Wales aims to acquire water entitlements resulting from water savings generated from eligible projects by private irrigation infrastructure operators that improve the efficiency and productivity of water use and management, both off and on-farm, helping to secure a sustainable future for irrigation communities.

For more information see: Private Irrigation Infrastructure Operators (PIIO) Program in New South Wales

Private Irrigation Infrastructure Program for South Australia

The Australian Government is providing up to $110 million for the Private Irrigation Infrastructure Program for South Australia to assist in securing a sustainable future for South Australian irrigation communities.

The Program will fund projects that improve the efficiency and environmental benefits of irrigation water use and management in the South Australian Murray-Darling Basin. In exchange for funding for infrastructure works, successful applicants will transfer water entitlements to the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder to use for environmental water purposes.

For more information see: Private Irrigation Infrastructure Program for South Australia

State led State Priority Projects

Improving long term water quality in the ACT and the Murrumbidgee river system

The Australian Government will provide up to $85 million for the ACT to conduct a two-phase project to improve water quality in ACT waterways allowing residents, businesses and visitors to enjoy the benefits of healthy, functioning rivers and lakes and contribute significantly to improved water quality in the Murray Darling Basin.

Phase one will involve implementing a comprehensive ACT-wide water quality monitoring programme, focusing on six priority catchments and will continue for two years from February 2014. 

Analysis of data collected will be used to inform the second phase of the project, which involves construction of infrastructure works capable of delivering the required water quality improvements in each catchment.

Phase two is to be completed by June 2019.

South Australia Integrated Pipelines

Around $120 million has been provided by the Australian Government for the construction of a series of potable and irrigation pipelines in areas adjacent to the South Australian Lower Lakes. The pipelines supply potable and irrigation water to communities which were previously reliant upon the Lower Lakes for their water supplies. The project is complete and the pipelines are operational.

South Australia Riverine Recovery Project

The Riverine Recovery Project aims to implement an improved riverine management regime for the River Murray from the South Australian/Victorian border to Wellington in South Australia and deliver water savings for transfer to the Commonwealth for environmental purposes. The activities undertaken as part of this project reflect a landscape-scale approach to addressing the problems of the River Murray and are expected to provide for a more effective, efficient and flexible management of environmental water.

South Australian River Murray Improvements Program - SA-08 - Preparation of Business Case

On 23 July 2012 the Australian Government contracted funding of up to $1.2 million for South Australia to develop a feasibility study and business case for a proposed South Australian River Murray Improvements Program. In August 2013 the Australian Government entered into a new program agreement with South Australia to fund a new program, the South Australia River Murray Sustainability Program. The new program was developed from the proposal for a South Australian River Murray Improvements Program.

Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth Projects

The objective of the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth (CLLMM) Recovery Project is to assist the South Australian Government in managing the site for ecological health and to support the implementation and objectives of the CLLMM Long-Term Plan. The objectives of the Long-Term Plan are to provide a clear direction for the future management of the CLLMM region as a healthy, productive and resilient Wetland of International Importance.

Goulburn Murray Water Connections Project Stage 2 (formerly NVIRP2)

The $953 million Goulburn Murray Water Connections Project Stage 2 is the largest Australia Government investment in irrigation infrastructure generating water savings of 102 gigalitres for the environment on average over the long-term every year. The project involves modernisation of channels, replacement or removal of meter outlets, creation of new direct connections for customers currently connected to distribution and spur channels.

Northern Victoria Irrigation Renewal Project Stage 2 (NVIRP 2) - On-Farm Priority Project

The $43.7 million NVIRP 2 On-Farm Priority Project is aligned with the Goulburn Murray Water Connections Project Stage 2 (formerly NVIRP2). The on-farm initiative is a three year initiative which will deliver farm irrigation system upgrades to the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District so that farms will realise the full benefit of both off and on-farm modernisation, delivering water from the dam to the plant with optimal efficiency. The water savings of 20GL will be shared equally between irrigators and the environment.

Sunraysia Modernisation Project

The $103 million Sunraysia Modernisation Project will deliver an integrated body of works to modernise irrigation infrastructure across the Mildura, Red Cliffs and Merbein irrigation districts in the Sunraysia region of northern Victoria. The project will return 7 gigalitres high reliability water savings to the environment on average over the long-term every year and assist irrigators in the Sunraysia region to achieve water efficiency gains, minimise costs and grow higher value crops all year round.

Queensland Healthy HeadWaters Water Use Efficiency Project

Up to $155m is available for irrigation farmers in the Queensland Murray-Darling Basin to invest in efficient irrigation systems and technologies that reduce water loss, deliver long-term economic benefits, and return a share of water savings to the Basin's rivers, wetlands and floodplains.

Queensland Coal Seam Gas Water Feasibility Study

The Australian Government has committed $5 million for a Coal Seam Gas Water Feasibility Study. The aim of the Study is to examine the use of coal seam gas water in addressing water sustainability and adjustment issues in the Queensland Murray-Darling Basin.

New South Wales State Priority Projects

Under the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) on Murray-Darling Basin Reform and COAG communique of 3 July 2008, the Australian Government agreed to provide up to $708 million to NSW for a suite of state-led water efficiency projects subject to due diligence. On 16 November 2011 a funding package was approved that comprised of the following projects: Metering ($196.76 million); Basin Pipes ($136.20 million); Irrigated Farm Modernisation ($83 million); and Healthy Floodplains ($49.01 million).

Metering Project

The Australian Government is providing funding of around $196 million for the NSW Metering Project. The purpose of this Project is to install accurate water meters at unregulated, regulated and groundwater extraction points in the NSW Murray-Darling Basin section to ensure coverage of at least 95% of the total volume of licensed extractions. The meters will be connected to a telemetry system that will provide real time information on water extraction throughout the Basin. A share of water savings resulting from this project will be returned to the environment.

Irrigated Farm Modernisation Project

The Irrigated Farm Modernisation Project aims to upgrade on-farm water infrastructure and strengthen the capacity of irrigators to adopt more efficient water management practices, reduce water losses and improve productivity. Funding of up to $83 million is available to NSW for this Project.

Basin Pipes Project

Around $136 million is available for NSW to implement the Basin Pipes Project. This Priority Project will upgrade selected stock and domestic schemes in the NSW Murray-Darling Basin section to improve the efficiency of water use, restore flow patterns in natural watercourses and contribute to a sustainable future for dependent communities.

Healthy Floodplains Project

The Australian Government is providing up to $50 million for the Healthy Floodplains Project. The purpose of the Project is to licence and control floodplain extractions and improve watering of key environmental assets across NSW. The Project will increase the volume of flow to wetlands on floodplains through controls on water capture and modification of works, and through development and implementation of floodplain management plans.

Nimmie-Caira project

The Australian Government has agreed to provide $180 million to NSW to purchase the land and water entitlements from 11 property owners in the Nimmie-Caira area, and for NSW to undertake extensive infrastructure works and develop long term land management arrangements.

Under the Agreement, water entitlements currently used for irrigation will be transferred to the Commonwealth for environmental use, making a significant contribution towards 'bridging the gap' to the sustainable diversion limits under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

The project will provide 381,000 megalitres of Murrumbidgee supplementary (Lowbidgee) water entitlements that will benefit wetlands and floodways of the Lowbidgee floodplain and beyond, delivering a long-term average of 173,000 megalitres of water to the environment each year. It will reduce the need for the purchase of water entitlements from other areas in the Murrumbidgee Valley that have substantial permanent plantings and irrigation infrastructure.

New South Wales State Priority Projects – pilots

Two pilots were rolled out under the NSW State Priority Projects:

  • NSW Irrigated Farm Modernisation Border Rivers and Gwydir Pilot – the pilot provided Border Rivers and Gwydir Valley irrigators with the opportunity to upgrade irrigation infrastructure, improve productivity, adapt to reduced water availability, ensure the long term sustainability of local communities and return a share of water savings to the Basin's rivers, wetlands and floodplains. This project has been completed.
  • NSW Metering Scheme Pilot - the project involves the purchase and installation of high accuracy and tamper proof meters and telemetry systems to collect water extraction data in the Murray catchment. This project will be completed by December 2013.