A NSW Government website

Water infrastructure

Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism

Achieving similar or better outcomes for rivers, wetlands and wildlife using less water as part of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

New SDLAM funding announced

The NSW Government has negotiated a new Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism (SDLAM) program funding agreement with the Australian Government following the successful passage of the Water Amendment (Restoring Our Rivers) Bill 2023.

Five SDLAM projects across southern NSW have received an additional $115 million and more time to deliver critical water infrastructure supporting the Murray and Murrumbidgee rivers, communities, wetlands and wildlife.

View the press release.

Important information

The NSW Government will not be proceeding with the rescoped Yanco Creek Offtake Project after Basin States agreed to the NSW request to withdraw the project from the Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism (SDLAM) program.

The decision not to proceed with the project was made after a benefits study concluded the rescoped project would deliver minimal benefits towards water recovery targets under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

The benefits study is available to download from the Yanco Creek Offtake Project webpage.

SDLAM projects

Part of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, the Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism (SDLAM) is a program designed to achieve similar or improved environmental outcomes for rivers, wetlands and wildlife using less water.

SDLAM can be achieved through supply, including constraints, or efficiency measures. Supply measures involve improvements to the way rivers are managed, while efficiency measures involve activities to change water use practices, to save water for the environment. For more information about how the measures work, visit Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

In 2017, the Basin states and the Australian Government agreed on a package of 36 SDLAM projects across the southern connected Murray-Darling Basin, with the aim of recovering 605 GL of water each year for the river system.

The NSW Government is currently developing seven projects, in collaboration with local communities, key stakeholders and other Basin states, with funding from the Australian Government.

Why SDLAM is important

The Murray Darling Basin Plan was developed to improve and maintain healthy rivers and floodplains, while supporting sustainable agriculture, industries and communities. The Basin Plan is about more than water recovery, it is about striking a balance to ensure a resilient and productive environment for the future.

Water for the environment recovered through the Basin Plan will not solve all the river health issues. There simply is not enough water to simulate the large-scale events needed to reconnect the rivers to the floodplains as often and to the extent they need.

SDLAM projects further the significant works already completed under the Basin Plan. Better environmental outcomes can be achieved without the need for additional water recovery through infrastructure, changing rules to deliver water to high value environmental sites and changing the way rivers are managed. Often infrastructure, such as flow regulators, pumps or channels, are the only way to get water to key environmental sites in the volumes needed. Another option is to ease constraints to the delivery of water for the environment, allowing managed higher flows down the river to connect rivers and floodplains more often.

The SDLAM Acceleration Program

The NSW Government is moving forward with five accelerated SDLAM projects across the Murray and Murrumbidgee rivers in southern NSW by 31 December 2026.

The five accelerated SDLAM projects will deliver up to 45 GL of the outstanding amount needed to reach the 605 GL target required by the Basin Plan each year, delivering strong ecological outcomes for the Murray-Darling Basin.

These projects will also play a key role in creating jobs in regional areas, generating an estimated 450 direct and 850 indirect regional jobs, and will provide a much-needed boost to the regional economies where the projects are being delivered.

Program update

The five projects have undergone rigorous technical, environmental, cultural and economic analysis along with independent stakeholder and technical advisory group reviews.

The department’s Water Group has engaged extensively with communities and stakeholders to progress the projects through the planning and design phases towards construction.

All projects are in detailed design and finalising environmental planning approvals.

The Lower Murray: Locks 8 and 9 project is being delivered through SA Water.

Select works packages are in procurement:

  • the Shear Paddock works package of the Koondrook-Perricoota Forest Project for the construction of a 5.9 km levee is open for tender until 20 May 2024
  • the Tuppal Creek works package of the Mid-Murray Anabranches Project for the construction of 6 bridges is open for tender until 23 May 2024.

The department is inviting expressions of interest until 10 May 2024 to engage a managing contractor for the delivery of SDLAM projects, with all other works packages scheduled for tender by the end of 2024.

Some early works have been completed, including the construction of bridge, river crossing, and access road infrastructure.

Lock 9 Murray River near Wentworth, New South Wales.

Restoring and enhancing the river habitat across the interconnected Frenchmans Creek and Carrs, Capitts and Bunberoo systems.

Modernising infrastructure to enable smarter use of water in the Yanco Creek system.

River red gums in Perricoota-Koondrook Forest.

Mitigating third-party impacts of water releases on landholders adjacent to the forest.

Improving connectivity between the Murray River, its main anabranch, the Edward-Kolety river system, and other surrounding creeks.

Reed beds at the Millewa Forest.

Improving the delivery of environmental water in the Yanga and Murray (Millewa) National Parks.

Menindee Lakes Project rescoping

The Menindee Lakes SDLAM Project caused a high level of concern in the community. Recognising it has unique sensitivities and cannot be delivered in its current form, the project is being rescoped to consider alternatives to what was previously proposed.

Yanco Creek Offtake Project

The Water Group will not be proceeding with the Yanco Creek Offtake SDLAM Project. Basin states agreed to the NSW request to withdraw the project from the SDLAM program in February 2024 given studies found minimal water savings would be achieved. For more information on the withdrawal of the project, see the Yanco Creek Offtake Project webpage.

Projects outside the SDLAM Acceleration Program and rescope work

The NSW Government will continue to work with our stakeholders to identify new and amended SDLAM projects that can be implemented by the new deadline of 31 December 2026.

Nimmie-Caira project.

A $180 million significant water saving project for NSW, and particularly for the Murrumbidgee region.

Sunsetting over Darlington Point in Cookoothama.

Connecting rivers to wetlands and floodplains for health of Country in the Murray and Murrumbidgee valleys.

Contact us

For more information call us on 1300 081 047 or email us at: water.enquiries@dpie.nsw.gov.au