Off-farm Efficiency Grants Program

What is the Off-farm Efficiency Grants Program?

The Off-farm Efficiency Grants Program is a grant opportunity that provides owners or operators of water delivery infrastructure in the Murray-Darling Basin with funding to help achieve a sustainable future for the Murray-Darling Basin, its people, industries and the environment.



The Off-farm Efficiency Grants Program will run over three years from 2021-22 to 2023-24. The program is part of the Australian Government’s $1.5 billion package to achieve a sustainable future for the Murray–Darling Basin, its people, industries and the environment.


Case Study

Murrumbidgee Irrigation

A $126.48 million federal government grant will enable Murrumbidgee Irrigation to complete an almost decade long project to halve its water losses. The funding will be spent on finalising automation works, reconstructing nearly 20 kilometres of open channels and creating a 5000 megalitre ‘surge reservoir’.

A new 5,000-megalitre ‘surge reservoir’ has been completed for the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Project in New South Wales. The project will enable farmers to water their crops at high flow rates without using as much water as possible. Up to 100 local jobs are expected to be created during the project’s construction phase, which is due to begin in May.




The objectives of the program are to:

  • better prepare water delivery networks, irrigators and communities for the future
  • provide economic stimulus to support regional communities
  • achieve neutral to positive socio-economic outcomes which are supported by the community
  • reduce water losses to increase the volume of available water for the environment, irrigation networks, irrigators and communities
  • enhance the environmental outcomes that can be achieved by the Murray–Darling Basin Plan 2012:
    • by increasing the volume of Murray–Darling Basin water resources available for environmental use by up to 450 GL
    • by helping to ensure long term Murray–Darling Basin health and water quality for the environment, irrigators, towns and cities.

The Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (the department/we) is responsible for administering this grant opportunity on behalf of the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.


Socio-Economic Test

The Murray−Darling Basin Ministerial Council has agreed to a socio-economic test which applies under this program. As this is a vital component of your application, you should contact your state government as early as possible to undertake the test, including public consultation. Additional information about the socio-economic test can be found in section 2.1 of the grant opportunity guidelines.



Grants of $50,000 to $150 million to cover up to 100% of eligible project costs.


Eligible Projects

To be eligible your project must:

  • be able to generate water savings, some of which will be transferred and registered with the Australian Government by 30 June 2024
  • result in the transfer of unencumbered water entitlements in perpetuity by 30 June 2024 for use by the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder
  • have neutral or positive socio-economic impacts
  • be consistent with item 38 or 39 of the Register of Measures that were agreed by the Murray–Darling Basin Ministerial Council and notified to the Murray–Darling Basin Authority in May 2016 to outline the set of works that can be categorised as an efficiency measure through ‘on farm irrigation efficiency and other water use efficiencies’ or ‘urban or industrial and mining areas efficiency’
  • address at least one or more of the following:
    • improve the water efficiency of the irrigation infrastructure that uses Murray–Darling Basin water resources
    • provide irrigation infrastructure that delivers, stores or drains water from the Murray–Darling Basin
    • better utilise existing dams and storage to deliver water from the Murray–Darling Basin
    • adjustment of a long-term average sustainable diversion limit
    • otherwise achieve the objects of Part 2AA of the Water Act 2007 (Cth), which are to enhance the environmental outcomes that can be achieved by the Basin Plan.


Eligible Applicants

You can apply if you have an Australian business number (ABN) and are one of the following entities:

  • an entity incorporated in Australia
  • a company limited by guarantee
  • an incorporated trustee on behalf of a trust
  • an incorporated association.

You can’t apply if you are:

  • an organisation operating an irrigation enterprise as a single unit (i.e. an irrigator)
  • an organisation, or your project partner is an organisation, included on the National Redress Scheme’s list of Institutions that have not joined or signified their intent to join the Scheme– external site
  • an employer of 100 or more employees that has not complied– external site with the Workplace Gender Equality Act (2012).

You can partner with one or more other organisations. But you must decide who the lead organisation is.

The lead organisation must fill out the application form.

If we give your group the grant, the lead organisation:

  • signs the grant agreement
  • is responsible for making sure your group follows the rules in the grant agreement.



Applications close 27 May 2022.


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