The National Water Grid Investment Framework (PDF 1.32 MB) (Investment Framework) ensures funding decisions are economically viable, environmentally sustainable and culturally responsive. The Investment Framework also enables the government to respond to future changes including climate change, population growth and increasing agricultural demand. The Investment Framework supports the government’s priority for healthy water systems to support our communities and economy.

The Australian Government announced changes to the Investment Framework in October 2022 to allow for a broader range of projects to be considered. This includes essential town water supplies in regional and remote communities, as well as increased engagement with First Nations peoples as projects are developed.

The Investment Framework sets a clear approach for investment to deliver projects against a range of social, environment and economic outcomes. It has been developed in collaboration with state and territory governments and provides a long term, strategic approach to responsible and respectful investment in water infrastructure.

National Water Grid Fund

The National Water Grid Fund (the Fund) is our primary program for delivering investments in water projects. The Fund aims to improve water security, while being economically and environmentally responsible.

The Investment Framework establishes the strategic objectives and eligibility criteria for investment through the Fund. Proposals for funding must be submitted by state and territory governments.

The Fund is administered through the Federation Funding Agreement and projects are administered in line with the Program Administration Manual.

State and territory governments are responsible for developing project proposals for business case development or construction funding under the Investment Framework.

National Water Grid Program Administration Manual

The Program Administration Manual sets out the process for new project proposals and administration of existing projects. It should be read in conjunction with the Investment Framework.

Program Administration Manual (PDF 1.78 MB)
Program Administration Manual (DOCX 7.89 MB)

Key principles

Eight principles guide investment in nationally important water infrastructure.

  • Public benefit and national interest

    Projects should be of demonstrable public benefit and have a national interest element, including through securing the nation's water security, building resilience to future drought, supporting primary industries and promoting regional economic development, including through the creation of jobs.

  • Strong state or territory support

    There must be strong state or territory government support, including funding contributions and involvement of the private sector and local government, where appropriate.

  • Highest net benefit

    The investment should provide the highest net benefit of all options available to increase access to or security of water, taking into account economic, social and environmental impacts.

  • Working together

    Projects should look to address circumstances which cannot be effectively addressed by private proponents, the states or other stakeholders alone.

  • Alignment with National Water Initiative Principles

    Projects should align with the National Water Initiative principles, including appropriate cost recovery, and where full cost recovery is not deemed feasible, any subsidies are fully transparent.

  • First Nations engagement

    Project development must include engagement with the First Nations communities of potentially affected areas, to comprehensively identify and manage impacts on cultural heritage.

  • Consistent and robust analysis

    If providing capital, a consistent, robust analysis of costs and benefits is used and assessment of appropriate funding and financing arrangements is undertaken.

  • Early involvement

    Earlier involvement in project identification and development, including through the NWGA’s Science Program, support for business case development, and close collaboration with the states and other project proponents.

Fast facts

The development of the National Water Grid will future-proof Australia’s resources, increase our climate resilience and support prosperity and liveability for regional and remote communities as well as growth in our agriculture sector.

  • Did you know?

    Water underpins Australia’s agriculture and primary industry sectors, supporting more than 220,000 jobs and injecting billions into our national economy each year. By investing in water infrastructure, we are supporting these sectors well into the future, creating the conditions for resilient regional economies and growing jobs, now and into the future.

  • Did you know?

    Agriculture and primary industry sectors account for more than half of Australia’s annual demand for water. Increasing access to reliable water will help agriculture grow towards a $100 billion industry. Investing in the right infrastructure in the right places will support Australian agriculture and primary production in established areas, and help unlock agricultural production in new areas, including Australia’s north.