Benchmarking costs of NRM improvements for the GBR

John Rolfe 100dpi
Led by: Prof John Rolfe, CQU


Project Summary

This project aims to provide information on cost benchmarks for key management actions to improve water quality into the GBR. The project involves a review and evaluation of summary data about NRM projects that have been funded recently to address water quality issues. By pooling the data across NRM regions and different activities, it will be possible to identify the distribution of cost/outcome ratios. From this, potential benchmarks can be established (e.g. 75% of sediment reduction actions are less than $xxx/tonne, 95% are less than $XXX per ton). It also provides some identification of the most cost-effective strategies across actions and regions.

Problem Statements


Funding programs to improve water quality into the GBR are difficult to evaluate, and administering agencies typically need to allocate funds without a clear assessment of the cost-effectiveness of proposals. In particular, it is difficult to judge when particular proposals are too expensive, or how funds should be distributed between actions and regions.
Reef Rescue grants through the NRM bodies and other relevant funding programs provide data for a natural experiment on cost-effectiveness. For each grant, NRM groups need to report to the Australian Government the funding allocation and the planned actions and projected outputs. It is proposed to collect and consolidate that data into a single database so that it can be evaluated.

How Research Addresses Problem

The evaluation will focus on (a) developing a single measure of performance for each project, ideally as the cost of each unit of pollutant reduced, or the cost of each unit of action achieved (b) identifying the relevant variables such as the industry type, region, geographical information and type of action (c) identifying the distribution of cost-effectiveness values for each relevant action (d) identifying relevant benchmark values from each distribution (e.g. values at the 75%, 90% and 95% points), and (c) comparing cost-effectiveness between different sub-sets of categories (i.e. different actions).

Project Keywords

Economics; Costs; NRM; Benchmarks; Production.

Project Funding

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

Project Publications
NESP TWQ Project 3.10 Final Report
Final Report