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Irrigation industry projects

The Murray-Darling Basin is known as the food bowl of Australia and more than half of the value of our state’s irrigated agriculture comes from the Murray-Darling Basin in South Australia.

South Australian irrigators understand how precious water is and are always looking for ways to use less water.

There are a number of programs under way to support irrigators to use water even more efficiently, and research to help the industry to diversify into areas that use less water.

The Murray-Darling Basin Water Infrastructure Program provides funding for projects to implement better, more efficient infrastructure to reduce water consumption. The program will fund five types of projects:

  • Urban water efficiency projects
  • Industrial water efficiency projects
  • Off-farm projects
  • Metering projects
  • On-farm projects
The South Australian River Murray Sustainability Program (now concluded) involved a suite of regional development, research and innovation programs which included:

The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development's element is complete and was made up of three components:

  • $7.5 million to redevelop the Loxton Research Centre
  • $5.0 million for an Industry-led Research Sub-program
  • $12.5 million for a Regional Development and Innovation Sub-program.
  • Irrigation Industry Improvement Program – supporting irrigators to ensure they remained at the forefront of irrigation practice whilst meeting the water return targets specified by the Basin Plan.
  • Loxton Research Centre Redevelopment – refurbishing the existing research centre and constructing a new building, including conference facilities, tasting kitchen and flexible working space to provide a business hub and drive collaboration between industry and researchers.
  • Industry-Led Research Sub-Program – funding for research to build industry capacity to adapt to new water efficiency targets in the Basin Plan, improve access to overseas markets and build recognition and production.
  • Regional Development and Innovation Fund – funding for major projects from non-irrigating businesses or organisations to deliver regional employment opportunities and improve regional economic diversity.

South Australian River Murray Sustainability Program (SARMS)

The Australian Government’s Water Efficiency Program will deliver funding to upgrade water infrastructure in the Murray–Darling Basin. Over $1.5 billion is available to improve water efficiency and deliver 450 gigalitres of water for the environment by 2024. Water saving projects must demonstrate a neutral or positive social and economic impact for the community.

The Australian Government’s Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure Program aims to increase water use efficiency, return water to the environment and secure a long-term future for irrigation communities, and includes:

  • Commonwealth On-Farm Further Irrigation Efficiency Program (concluded) - funded infrastructure to make irrigation systems even more efficient so additional water could be recovered for the environment.
  • On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program (concluded) – funded modernising irrigation infrastructure while returning water savings to the environment.
  • Private Irrigation Infrastructure Program for South Australia (now closed) - funded the River Industry Irrigation Renewal Program which funded industries that rely on the river to adopt better and more efficient irrigation technology, with a share of the saved water returned to the environment.

On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program in the SA Murray-Darling Basin

Irrigation research and development is underway in the Natural Resources SA Murray-Darling Basin region, and funding opportunities are often available to support natural resource management activities across the Natural Resources SA Murray-Darling Basin and South East regions.

A healthy River Murray is vital to support the industries and communities that rely on its water, and the Millennium drought highlighted that too much water has been taken from across the basin for too long.

Water savings from these programs will be returned to the environment and contribute to water recovery targets under the Basin Plan, bringing water use across the basin to more sustainable levels.

A range of environmental projects are also underway to secure a healthy, working river, now and into the future.

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