Legacy of the Lower Burdekin Water Quality Tender

Romy Greiner 100dpi
Led by: Prof Romy Greiner, JCU


Project Summary

This project conducts an ex-post evaluation of a water quality tender (auction) project. In 2007-08, a water quality pilot tender was trialled in the Lower Burdekin River area, funded by the Australian Government through the National Market Based Instruments and co-funded and administered by the NQ Dry Tropics. This project will collaborate with NQ Dry Tropics and engage with tender participants to review design, operational, administrative and other matters of the trial. It will evaluate the effectiveness of the tender to achieve long-term change and identify strengths as well as opportunities for improvement. The research will inform economic theory and future tenders.

Problem Statements


Market-based instruments (MBIs) are postulated as an approach for achieving the adoption of water quality improvement practices by farmers. Among MBIs, tenders are thought to be particularly effective and efficient as farmers compete for funding. Few tenders have been conducted and there is a distinct lack of ex-post evaluation. This project will review one tender trial so that lessons learnt can help improve theory and the design of future tenders.

In 2007-08, a Water Quality Tender (WQT) was conducted in the Lower Burdekin area, part of the Burdekin River Catchment. It was a pilot project, funded by the Australian Government through the National Market Based Instruments Program, with additional support provided by the NQ Dry Tropics. The tender had a funding scope of $600,000 and attracted 88 submissions from cane growers and graziers, of which 34 bids were subsequently selected for funding.

No evaluation of the WQT was ever conducted and it is consequently unknown what the experiences of participants and contracting agency were, and whether the funded activities have persisted and continue to make a positive contribution to water quality in the GBR.

How Research Addresses Problem

This project proposes to undertake a systematic review of the WQT. The learnings can strengthen WQT design and implementation processes, including future funding rounds of the Reef Trust Tender.

Project Keywords

Market-based instruments; Ex-post evaluation; Program review; Socio-economic research; Farmer interviews.

Project Funding

This project is jointly funded through JCU, Peregrin, BDT, CQU and the Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Programme.

Project Publications
NESP TWQ Project 1.5 Final Report Cov
Final Report