The Australian Government has recently released guidelines for the capital component of the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund. Contestable funding of approximately $200 million will be available to construct water infrastructure in partnership with state and territory governments, in addition to almost $250 million already committed in the 2016 election.
Importantly, applications received by 16 March 2017 will be assessed for funding prior to 1 July 2017. This reflects a clear desire to get this process moving and the guidelines will help proponents shape their business case submissions.
The guidelines also attempt to address some of the tricky public policy questions around capital funding of water infrastructure projects. Some of the highlights of the guidelines are:
- Projects must be either ready to commence construction or undergoing final approvals requirements at the time the EOI is lodged with the Australian Government
- Priority will be given to proposals with a clear and credible business case, supported by a cost benefit analysis, and with matching funds from state governments
- Proponents must demonstrate compliance with the principles of the National Water Initiative, which may be particularly challenging in Western Australia and Northern Territory
- Preference will be given to water storage infrastructure, however some other water infrastructure types are relevant
- Only state and territory governments can apply to ensure that there is jurisdictional support for any proposed initiatives
- EOIs seeking funding of more than $100 million will be referred to Infrastructure Australia for economic evaluation.
The National Water Infrastructure Development Fund (the fund) implements the Australian Government’s commitment to start the detailed planning necessary to build or augment existing water infrastructure, including dams, pipelines or managed aquifer recharge. This will help secure the nation’s water supplies and deliver regional economic development benefits for Australia, while also protecting our environment.