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National Water Grid Authority

National Water Grid Fund applications

Participate in the next National Water Grid funding round.

New pipes at Calala, NSW.

Expressions of interest to participate in the National Water Grid June 2024 funding round have closed. The department’s Water Group will assess proposals for eligibility, identify those which best meet the funding criteria, and work with shortlisted organisations to help develop funding proposals for consideration by the Australian Government. All applicants will be notified of the outcome of their expression of interest.

The application process

  1. 1.

    The Water Group in the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water seeks Stage 1 expressions of interest for three weeks.

  2. 2.

    The department’s Water Group evaluates proposals for eligibility and alignment with the National Water Grid Investment Framework and NSW Government considerations.

  3. 3.

    An evaluation committee shortlists proposals to recommend to the Deputy Secretary, Water Group, and the NSW Minister for Water to proceed to Stage 2 applications.

  4. 4.

    The Water Group works with shortlisted projects to develop the Stage 2 formal funding application.

  5. 5.

    The NSW Government submits applications to the Australian Government for assessment and funding consideration. The funding decision is usually made within three to four months.

National Water Grid investment framework

Eligibility for funding is set out in the National Water Grid Investment Framework. The investment framework underpins how the NWGA advises the Australian Government on national water infrastructure investment decisions and processes.

To be eligible for National Water Grid Fund funding, projects must:

  • be a new capital investment in infrastructure increasing the security, quality and/or availability of water for regional and remote communities, and/or productive use
  • deliver a demonstrable public benefit with a national interest element and demonstrated engagement with affected stakeholders (including First Nations people)
  • be brought forward with strong support by a state or territory government (including securing funding contributions) and be dependent on a Commonwealth contribution.

Proponents seeking funding through the First Nations Infrastructure Program must also:

  • prioritise First Nations communities without access to clean and reliable drinking water.

Proponents seeking funding through the Science Program must meet one of the following themes:

  • analyse water resources, to understand future sustainability and nature positive development options
  • identify and progress alternative and emerging opportunities to increase water security and climate change resilience
  • develop new information resources to support decision-making, including decision support tools and science communication.

Evaluation criteria

Mandatory evaluation criteria identify the minimum requirements essential to a successful application. These requirements are evaluated on a pass/fail basis. Applications failing to meet the requirements are given no further consideration. Merit-based evaluation criteria (or assessment criteria) are used to determine the relative technical merit of each application and the best overall value.

NSW Government considerations

All project applications must demonstrate they have strong NSW state support, and co-funding from the state, proponent and/or beneficiaries. NSW assesses projects and programs warranting NSW and Australian Government funding based on the criteria set out in the investment framework, as well as the NSW-specific considerations.

These include whether the project:

  • is identified as a NSW Government priority
  • is prioritised by existing policy drivers
  • is based in a regional or remote community with critical town water security issues
  • already has co-funding secured
  • also improves environmental outcomes and/or outcomes for First Nations people.

All assessment criteria in the application must be addressed and all will have equal weighting.

Late applications

Applications received after the closing date will be deemed to be 'late' and will be registered as ‘late’. A late application will only be admitted for evaluation if the Water Group, at its absolute discretion, determines the acceptance of a late application will not compromise the integrity and competitiveness of the process and it is considering applications providing the best outcome.

Incomplete applications

The eligibility criteria listed in the detailed application form will be more thoroughly evaluated when proponents are asked to complete the NWGA funding application in full as part of Stage 2.

The Water Group reserves the right not to progress applications as part of Stage 2 if the NWGA application template has not been completed with sufficient detail to satisfy the criteria.

NSW Government role in the National Water Grid Fund application process

The NSW Government plays a role both in evaluating applications for eligibility against the National Water Grid Investment Framework and the NSW Government requirements, and then in supporting proponents to develop applications prior to submission to the Australian Government.

The Water Group’s Program Development and Management team is the key contact within the NSW Government responsible for supporting proponents with developing applications and the assessment of these applications before recommendations are made.

The role of the Program Development and Management team is to:

  • evaluate the expressions of interest against the investment framework eligibility criteria and NSW Government requirements to identify a short-list of projects and programs through the open applications process
  • seek Executive Director Infrastructure Development, Deputy Secretary Water Group and NSW Minister for Water approval on the short-listed proposals
  • coordinate the development of applications for funding with proponents (noting the proponents are ultimately responsible for completing proposals).

The Water Group’s Executive Director, Infrastructure Development, endorses the applications before they are recommended to the Water Group’s Deputy Secretary and the NSW Minister for Water for submission to the Australian Government.

A probity advisor will oversee this process.

Frequently asked questions

Where can I get a specific question answered if it is not covered below?

All general questions, application enquiries and correspondence must be routed through the NSW National Water Grid mailbox in the first instance. Grant applications require a meticulous approach to probity; it is essential that communications are routed through a single mailbox.

Please email us directly at nwgf-info@dpie.nsw.gov.au and one of the team will get back to you.

Further information can also be found in the National Water Grid Fund – NSW Funding Guide for Applications (PDF, 1243.48 KB).

What is the National Water Grid Fund?

The Australian Government’s National Water Grid Fund is a 10 year, multi-billion dollar rolling fund and works in partnership with state and territory governments to identify, plan and invest in water infrastructure to develop the National Water Grid. The National Water Grid Fund is administered by the National Water Grid Authority.

The fund aims to secure and improve the water security and water quality, particularly for the agricultural and primary industry sectors and regional and remote communities.

What is the National Water Grid Authority?

The National Water Grid Authority was established by the Australian Government to play a key role in shaping national water infrastructure policy and investment. This includes leading the development of a National Water Grid – a series of region-specific systems that will help grow Australia’s agriculture, build resilience to drought, and support regional prosperity.

What is the role of the NSW Government in the National Water Grid application process?

The NSW Government plays a role both in evaluating and recommending a shortlist of projects for development of National Water Grid funding applications to the NSW Minister for Water.

The department will support shortlisted NSW proponents to develop their National Water Grid funding applications.

Once funding submissions are completed and approved by the delegate, the department will submit the funding applications to the National Water Grid Authority.

Please note: Only state and territory governments can submit funding applications to the National Water Grid Authority for assessment.

Can I submit more than one NSW Expression of Interest?

You can submit more than one Expression of Interest (EOI) provided the projects are demonstrably different from one another. You should consider the overall capacity and capability to deliver two or more projects within timeframe and budget as these are critical selection factors that will be taken into account when assessing your EOI.

Can I discuss my project with the department before submitting an EOI?

Proponents can discuss potential project applications with the department prior to the EOI period opening.

Please note, however, that for probity reasons, once the EOI process opens, the Program Development team cannot discuss project details or risk application forfeiture with proponents.

Are there rules or conditions on how projects are funded?

Yes. The rules specify that the Australian Government will fund up to 50 per cent of the total project cost. Both National Water Grid and other Australian Government funding sources are counted in this. The remaining 50 per cent of the total project cost will need to come from any combination of the following:

  • the proponent themselves
  • other NSW Government and/or local council sources, including grants, concessional loans and equity vehicles.

Debt funding such as loans or convertible notes from investors and financiers are not permitted.

What projects are ineligible?

National Water Grid funding is not available for:

  • urban water infrastructure in major cities
  • maintenance, refurbishment or sewerage projects, without a betterment element that will provide substantial water for agriculture, industry and/or regional communities
  • projects that supply water primarily for the use of a private business or individual.

What is the definition of a primary industry?

The NSW Department of Primary Industries has selected five industry groups to represent the breadth of selected primary industries considered vital to NSW. These include extensive livestock, cropping, forestry, horticulture/viticulture and fisheries.

What are the NSW considerations? 

All project proposals must have state support, and co-funding from the state, proponent and/or beneficiaries.

The NSW Considerations are used by the Evaluation Panel to assess eligible EOIs and are:

  • is the project or program identified as a NSW government priority, e.g. via an election commitment or policy?
  • are there existing policy drivers making the project or program a priority?
  • does the project or program already have co-funding secured?
  • is the project based in a regional or remote community that has critical town water security issues?
  • does the project or program also improve environmental outcomes and/or outcomes for First Nations people?

What must be included with construction project applications?

Construction projects over $5 million must submit detailed costings and be supported by a detailed business case. Detailed business cases should be developed having regard to Infrastructure Australia’s Assessment Framework or the NSW Treasury Guidelines.

Projects seeking more than $7.5 million are required to develop Indigenous Participation Plans. For projects below the $7.5 million threshold, NSW’s Aboriginal Participation Policy should apply.

Construction projects under $5 million must be supported by a business case with sufficient detail to support an options analysis, P50 and P90 cost estimates and a Benefit-Cost Ratio.

A Benefit Cost Ratio must be provided for all construction project proposals. Refer to the NSW Government Guide to Cost-Benefit Analysis Manual for detailed information about Benefit Cost Ratios.

What must be included with detailed/final business case applications?

If you are seeking funding for a detailed, or final business case, you will need to support your EOI with a Strategic Business Case or options analysis document. Examples of suitable business case templates  can be found on the NSW Treasury website.

What are the next steps after I submit my EOI?

The department will review your EOI for eligibility against the National Water Grid criteria. If it is eligible, the Evaluation Panel will assess and score your project against the NSW Considerations. Further information can be found in the National Water Grid Fund – NSW Funding Guide for Applications (PDF, 1243.48 KB).

You will receive an email advising if your application is unsuccessful and offered a one-on-one feedback session to discuss your EOI.

If your EOI is successful, you will be contacted by the department and provided with the National Water Grid application template. We will help you complete the application and then submit it on your behalf.

Can I request reassessment if the application is deemed unsuccessful by the panel?

No, you cannot request reassessment. However, unsuccessful EOI applicants are offered opportunities for a feedback meeting with the department on request.

How is the Water Group in the NSW Department of Climate Changer, Energy, the Environment and Water involved if projects are funded? 

Under the Federal Financial Relations Act 2009, projects must be delivered through a partnership between the Australian Government and a state or territory. States and territories are the only entities eligible to receive funding. The department’s Water Group acts as the applicant for a proposed project on behalf of the proponent. The department will provide ongoing guidance, development, and advisory services to facilitate the preparation and submission of National Water Grid funding applications.

Contact us

If you have any questions or want to discuss a project proposal: