Supply and efficiency measures

Supply and efficiency measures are projects which can adjust the quantity of water required to be recovered to reach the Sustainable Diversion Limit (SDL) for the Murray-Darling Basin. For more information on how the adjustment mechanism works, see Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism.

Supply measures

Supply measure projects are able to offset a quantity of water which would otherwise be required to be recovered from the Basin, to a maximum volume of 650 GL. They seek to provide equivalent environmental outcomes with a reduced volume of water, and hence reduce the amount of water required to be recovered to meet the SDL. Project examples include environmental works, changes in river operations, and works to reduce evaporation losses. The most recent modelling of the supply measure projects, which has now been incorporated into an amendment of the Basin Plan, indicates an offset of up to 605 GL.

There are currently 36 proposed supply measure projects across the Murray-Darling Basin, of which NSW is the lead or co-proponent state on 22. For a complete list of SDL projects, please see the MDBA register of projects.

NSW supply measure projects:

Menindee Lakes

Murrumbidgee River

Murray River

Murray and Murrumbidgee valley national parks works

Southern Connected Basin

Preliminary business cases

To progress through the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council and the Basin Officials Committee, preliminary business cases, or concept studies, were developed to help decide if the projects should progress to be modelled by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, and can be funded for detailed design and environmental assessment.

These preliminary business cases are a precursor step to detailed design and environmental assessment, and many issues raised in these documents have since been addressed, or will be addressed through environmental assessment and consultation with stakeholders.

The department is progressively developing plain English, up-to-date project summaries which will be published on this page as they are completed. Further engagement is planned throughout 2018 and through the life of the projects.

For further detail on the assessment process for these projects see the MDBA’s assessment summary.

NSW-led projects

Projects led by other states

Efficiency measures

Water Efficiency program

The Water Efficiency program is delivered by the Commonwealth Government and seeks to recover an additional 450GL of water from across the entire Murray-Darling Basin for the environment through changing water use practices. This water recovery is in addition to the 2,680 GL required to reach the Sustainable Diversion Limit . Water efficiency projects enable businesses and communities to produce the same or greater output using less water.  Projects can include:

  • Urban water efficiency projects
  • Industrial water efficiency projects
  • On farm projects
  • Metering projects
  • Other Off farm projects

Project examples include replacing or upgrading less efficient methods of irrigation or lining water supply networks to reduce water losses.

The Basin Plan requires that efficiency measures can only be implemented when they have socioeconomically positive or neutral outcomes. In December 2018, the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council agreed on additional socio-economic criteria to ensure that Basin communities achieved neutral or positive outcomes from additional water recovery through efficiency measures.

An assessment process has been established to ensure that NSW projects comply with the agreed socio-economic criteria, and to ensure positive or neutral outcomes for our communities.

For more information about the Water Efficiency Program or to register a NSW Water Efficiency project visit:

To speak with someone regarding efficiency measures projects, please call 1800 900 090.