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Efficiency measure projects in South Australia

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Efficiency measures

Efficiency measures are an agreed component of the Basin Plan to recover 450 gigalitres of water. This water aims to deliver enhanced environmental outcomes throughout the Murray system, including floodplains in NSW and Victoria, and is particularly important for maintaining the health of the Coorong and Lower Lakes.

Efficiency measures projects improve water use practices and save water for the environment. They are part of the Basin Plan’s Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism, which is in place to benefit the environment and communities across the Murray-Darling Basin.

As part of the agreement under the Murray Darling Basin Plan, $1.5 billion is available from the Australian Government to improve water efficiency and return 450 gigalitres of water to the environment by 2024.

Five types of projects can receive funding:

  • Urban water efficiency projects
  • Industrial water efficiency projects
  • Off-farm projects
  • Metering projects
  • On-farm projects.

As well as benefiting irrigators, communities and the environment, this funding better prepares irrigators and communities to manage the impacts of a changing climate by improving water use practices and saving water.

Importantly, projects need to have positive or neutral socio-economic impacts on Murray Darling Basin communities and industries and water savings must be verified by an independent approved irrigation professional.

In South Australia, investments in water saving infrastructure through the Basin Plan have resulted in increased individual and community productivity and the return of water to the environment.

Efficiency measure projects in South Australia

In South Australia there are two project pathways:

  • State-led projects are developed and submitted by the South Australian government and, if agreed, will be delivered and funded in accordance with an agreed Commonwealth – State project agreement
  • The Water Efficiency Program is delivered by the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and provides funding for modern and more efficient infrastructure to reduce water consumption.

The South Australia government has finalised one feasibility study and anticipates completing a second feasibility study on ways to substitute River Murray water for alternative water sources in an urban setting.   The first feasibility study into using the Adelaide Desalination Plant to substitute for River Murray Water has been completed and the findings have been published in the final report. The second state led project is investigating the opportunity to substitute River Murray water with treated stormwater and waste water in some metropolitan Adelaide local council areas. This feasibility study is due to be completed in early 2021.

Information about the Water Efficiency Program, including approved delivery partners, eligibility criteria and how to apply, is available from the Department for Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

Water Efficiency Program applications to undertake water saving projects in South Australia will be assessed against the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council additional socio-economic criteria in accordance with the application assessment process.

Queries about the assessment of applications against the additional socio-economic criteria in South Australia can be sent to

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