Water-saving grants launched

Money to flow: A new program for generating water savings and capturing water for the environment opened to applications on November 24.

A new type of grant has opened up for entities that own water delivery infrastructure such as channels, pipes and weirs.

The Off-farm Efficiency Grants Program starts at $50,000 and can go right up to $150 million (the entire program’s budget) if the perfect project comes along.

Applications are currently open until May 2022.

The program is a key part of the Federal Government’s promise to put communities “back at the heart” of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

Federal Water Minister Keith Pitt said the program would make more water available to farmers while also generating water for the environment.

He said $150 million was on the table through the Off-farm Efficiency Grants Program “to help make our irrigation networks as efficient as possible”.

“We consulted with basin communities and those who own and operate off-farm irrigation infrastructure ... I encourage those organisations and entities interested in applying to read the documentation to see if their great idea can help meet the program aims.”

All successful grant projects must produce positive or neutral socio-economic benefits for the region, and will be tested by state governments and undergo public consultations.

The National Irrigators’ Council welcomed the grant program.

NIC executive officer Isaac Jeffrey said the NIC had long supported the principle that efficiency measures to achieve the long-promised 450Gl of up-water should come from off-farm projects.

“With grants available from $50,000 to support projects over the next three years, this $150 million grants program is in addition to the $1.3 billion program available to state governments to deliver water efficiency projects,” Mr Jeffrey said.

“These programs, announced by the Federal Government, go a long way to delivering what can be achieved under the (basin) plan, while supporting jobs and local communities.”

Learn more at: business.gov.au/ofegp