Strategic water purchasing tender
A tender for the strategic water rights purchasing of 44.3 gigalitre per year (GL/y) by the Australian Government to deliver the Murray–Darling Basin Plan opened on 23 March 2023 and closed on 19 May 2023.
The Australian Government sought tender responses that offered water rights for purchase in 6 catchments across New South Wales and southern Queensland through a competitive, open and transparent tender.
These catchments were:
- Condamine–Balonne: 14 GL/y of surface water and 3.2 GL/y of groundwater
New South Wales
- NSW Murray: 10 GL/y of surface water
- Namoi: 9.5 GL/y of surface water
- NSW Border Rivers: 5.1 GL/y of surface water
- Barwon–Darling: 1.6 GL/y of surface water
- Lachlan: 0.9 GL/y of surface water
As per the indicative timeline included as part of the tender documentation, in August 2023 the department started accepting some strategic water purchasing tender offers in the relevant catchments to help Bridge the Gap. The first catchments are the Barwon-Darling and Lachlan. Others will follow over the coming weeks.
If you submitted a tender response but have not yet received an outcome from the department, please note the tender evaluation is still underway and the department is continuing through this process.
At this time, we cannot disclose any further information about the tender outcomes and evaluation process because of privacy, commercial in confidence and confidentiality requirements under the Commonwealth Procurement Rules.
In addition to this tender, the Government is working with the ACT Government to recover 4.9 GL/y.
Strategic Water Purchasing Framework for 49.2 GL/y – Bridging the Gap
The Australian Government is committed to delivering the Murray–Darling Basin Plan (Basin Plan) in full. The Basin Plan is considered vitally important for the economic and environmental sustainability of the whole Murray–Darling Basin (Basin) and to assist communities, industries and the environment to survive through a changing climate, including droughts, which are predicted to occur more often and with greater severity.
The Strategic Water Purchasing Framework (the Framework) and supporting strategic water purchasing – bridging the gap factsheet sets out the Australian Government’s strategy for bridging the remaining 49.2 GL/y gap across 7 Basin catchments to achieve the Sustainable Diversion Limits (SDLs).
The purchasing strategy involves water entitlements being purchased in a selective and targeted manner, with a focus on specific water products or locations. The Framework outlines the guiding principles the Australian Government may use when considering strategic purchase opportunities to Bridge the Gap. Strategic purchasing may be carried out in accordance with the Framework using a variety of methods, including open tender and limited tender approaches.
This Framework is also a trading strategy for the purposes of s12.49 of the Basin Plan 2012. Detailed supporting documentation for procurement approaches being undertaken in accordance with this strategy are made available, including through AusTender, as relevant.
Snapshots of the 7 basin catchments are available, which reflect what the Australian Government heard prior to the publication of the Framework, including over several years in some cases.
Stakeholder engagement following release of the Strategic Purchasing Framework
Throughout March 2023, the Department held 9 information sessions in 8 locations with key stakeholders in the 6 catchments across the Murray–Darling Basin that were included in the tender for the Bridging the Gap target.
Locations included Deniliquin, Forbes, St George, Goondiwindi, Toowoomba, Narrabri, Walgett and Bourke. All information sessions were completed before the tender process opened on 23 March 2023.
Invitations were sent to key stakeholders who could provide a strong representation of community views and were able to share information with their communities. Smaller groups allowed everyone to have a voice and share their views during the information sessions. A waitlist was created to provide as many opportunities as possible within the limitations of venue capacity.
We did not invite journalists to attend the information sessions. This was to enable free-flowing conversations and open discussion. We provided separate briefing opportunities to media, as well as information resources.
A video presentation is available below, which provides the same information as the sessions for anyone who was unable to attend in person.
The presentation slides that were shown at the information sessions are available below.
What we heard
You can read a summary of what we heard during the 9 information sessions.
Options for other feasible projects
In addition to strategic water purchases to achieve the Bridging the Gap target, the Australian Government continues to welcome feasible proposals for other projects, such as efficiency projects, that can be delivered by June 2024.
Public consultation to hear ideas
The Australian Government welcomes innovative ideas to deliver the Murray–Darling Basin Plan in full. A public consultation to hear your ideas closed on 3 July 2023.
This consultation provided an opportunity to contribute ideas to deliver the Basin Plan’s 450GL water recovery target and to supplement estimated shortfalls in gap bridging water efficiency projects.
While this consultation process has now closed, you can still contribute ideas by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note, they may not be received in time to include in our 'what we heard' report.
For more information on next steps, please visit the consultation webpage.
Water for Australia plan outlined in the 2023–24 Budgets - DCCEEW
Contact us for more information on the framework or tender for strategic water purchasing in the Murray-Darling Basin.