Regional Water Quality Grant Program

The Great Barrier Reef Foundation (GBRF) is seeking to establish two regionally focussed water quality improvement programs under the Reef Trust Partnership, one for the Mulgrave-Russell catchment (value $6.2m) and one in the Tully-Johnstone catchment (value $11.6m). Applicants are invited to submit expressions of interest for provision of cost-effective solutions to substantially reduce the amount of dissolved inorganic nitrogen leaving these catchments. We are also seeking professional services related to program management and partnership coordination for these regional programs. Applications close 11.45 pm AEDT on 20 November 2020.


Can a copy of the webinar recording be made available?

The webinar recording has been posted on this GBRF website.

What does the 10% cap and minimum project budget >$500m refer to?

The 10% cap relates to the funding limitations for the Program Manager and Partnership Coordinator roles, which should be no more than 10% of the total grant for that particular region. The $500,000 minimum amount relates to the on-ground project minimum value.

Would projects involving treatment of river water be considered?

The approach and project design of projects is for delivery providers to develop. Proposals must be able to demonstrate how their project will achieve the required water quality outcomes.

How will GBRF validate water quality improvement at the end of the project?

The Paddock to Reef (P2R) projector tool will be the primary mechanism used for managing practice change projects. All projects will be required to report outcomes in accordance with the GBRF monitoring and evaluation (M&E) guidelines and frameworks. These documents are available as part of the tender package. GBRF also have an inhouse database which stores the P2R questions for practice change projects and will also incorporate the gully and streambank toolbox for sediment projects. Wetlands projects would be assessed differently. Project objectives/deliverables must be clearly defined and then tested, monitored and reported at regular intervals, for the life of the project. Project achievements and outcomes will be closely mapped and monitored to ensure key deliverables are being realised.

Is GBRF interested in developmental research, and could technologies proven in other cropping types be extended to sugarcane?

GBRF previously opened funding for an Innovation grant, which was suitable for novel approaches. This current grant round is seeking to implement on-ground water quality improvement projects using proven approaches for delivering the required water quality outcomes. Project proposals would need to demonstrate a very high level of confidence, with sufficient supporting evidence, in what can be delivered if using a new approach.

Will any more innovation projects be funded?

GBRF have already committed over $9M towards Innovation-funded projects, and another grant round for these types of projects is not planned.

What consideration is given to the potential impact of weather events on deliverables?

Proponents are expected to consider and assess project risks as part of their proposals, including mitigation measures and strategies to address these. GBRF understands the uncertainty associated with severe weather events and will approach such circumstances in a flexible and adaptable way, to identify the most feasible approach depending on the scenario. If significant risks are predicted, GBRF would expect proponents to address these in their submissions.

Will soil conservation measures to reduce fine sediments be funded under this grant?

Management of fine sediments is not a priority for investment in the Mulgrave-Russell and Tully-Johnstone catchments. Key priorities are driven by targets and objectives outlined in the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan, which identifies dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) as the priority for water quality improvement in these catchments. GBRF recognise that sediments may have nutrient associations. Proposals that identify delivery of nutrient savings can be considered, but the primary focus is achieving DIN reductions.

Is there an expectation for the regional program manager and regional partnership coordinator positions to be full-time positions for the duration of the program to June 2024?

It is not a requirement that the roles be full-time positions. GBRF will select an entity or organisation for each regional program to fulfil the program manager and partnership coordinator roles (or both). Within that entity, a group of professionals with different areas of expertise and different allocations of time can collectively contribute to the delivery of the tasks allocated to both roles. Applicants should ensure they have adequate resources to deliver the scope of works, while also recognising the indicative cap on the total funding available for these roles.

What is the P2R projector tool, and how do we access it?

The Paddock to Reef (P2R) Projector is a prioritisation tool created to support groups who are working with farmers to improve their water quality. It assists with the process of assessing and prioritising projects for funding. Further information on P2R can be found here.

Are capital equipment items eligible for funding under this grant?

Yes, capital items are eligible for funding, providing the applicant can demonstrate that the expense is justified and will contribute to a long-term (ongoing) water quality outcome. In the case of a major capital purchase, it may be that GBRF would require specific contractual commitments regarding how the capital item will be used, including beyond the life of the project.

What is the expectation for the frequency of Steering Committee meetings during a year of delivery?

The Steering Committee will be expected to initially meet on a monthly basis (at least within the first three to six months of the project). Meetings may be held less frequently as the project progresses, likely every 2-3 months. Members would include a representative from GBRF (as Chair), one representative from the GBRF Water Quality Working Group, one representative from the Program Manager and Partnership Coordinator organisation, and the GBRF Program Manager and secretariat. These meetings are currently being held via zoom rather than in person, so do not involve travel and associated logistics.

Does the 10% cap refer to the total amount for the Program Manager and Partnership Coordinator roles combined?

Yes, the 10% cap of total funding for each program applies to both the Project Manager (PM) and Partnership Coordinator (PC) roles combined. So for the Mulgrave-Russell catchment, GBRF would not allocate more than $620K of the $6.2M in total across both PM/PC roles.

What is the cap on total value of an asset that can be purchased?

Assets are defined as “any item of tangible property purchased, leased, hired, financed, created or otherwise brought into existence either wholly or in part with the use of the Project Funds and which has a GST exclusive value of $10,000 or more.”

No cap on assets are identified in the Reef Trust Head Agreement or the GBRF Subgrant Agreement, however approval of an investment in such assets would be required by the assessment panel, to ensure that the investment was necessary to achieve the end of partnership outcomes and value for money.

Is there a maximum funding value for individual water quality projects?

There is no maximum value set for individual water quality projects, however those approved for funding will need to provide evidence-based, cost-effective solutions that demonstrate how they will deliver substantial reductions in dissolved inorganic nitrogen leaving the Mulgrave-Russell catchment. The total amount of funding available in the Mulgrave-Russell region is $6.2 million, which will be used to fund delivery of all on-ground water quality projects, with a small portion to be used for the Project Manager/Partnership Coordinator roles and the technical advisory group.