Regional Water Quality Grant Program

The Great Barrier Reef Foundation is seeking delivery providers to implement on-ground water quality improvement projects as part of the Upper Herbert, Upper and East Burdekin, and the Bowen Broken Bogie Water Quality Programs. Applicants are invited to submit detailed project proposals that will contribute to achieving an enduring reduction in the long-term end-of-catchment pollutant loads from these priority catchments. Applications close 11.45pm AEST on 12 June 2020.

#Grant Round FAQ's

If the project scope includes siltation management, can it also include control of nutrients and metals?

Yes, both the control of nutrients and metals can be included, but primarily the project needs to deal with fine sediment. If there are additional benefits because the project will also be capturing nutrients and metals, that may potentially improve the attractiveness of the project. However, the project should primarily aim to address fine sediment, which is the pollutant that has been identified as a priority under the Water Quality Improvement Plan for these regions. In considering the cost-effectiveness of the proposed approach (assessment criteria 1) the proposal will be assessed against how it addresses fine sediment.

Is it possible to use project funds to purchase equipment used specifically for rehabilitation of severely degraded land (e.g. chisel plough for contour ripping & seeding)?

Yes, it is possible to purchase equipment to undertake the project. However, this measure may have an impact when assessing the cost-effectiveness of the proposal.

Is it possible to use project funds to purchase pasture seed as part of a rehabilitation project?

Yes, the purchase of pasture seed is considered an eligible type of expenditure.

Will smaller projects (under $500K) be considered for local Landcare groups that would struggle to manage and implement larger projects?

No, the minimum project size is $500K. Organisations (including Landcare groups) that would not be able to take on a project of this size may like to consider being part of a consortium bid through partnering with organisations that are more suited to deliver larger projects.

What is the particle size definition of fine sediment?

Fine sediment refers to particles with diameter of less than 16 micrometres.

Do I need to submit separate proposals for projects in multiple locations but within the same catchment?

No. Within one catchment you can submit a single proposal that incorporates multiple locations. However, you do have the option to submit two or more proposals within the same catchment if, for example, there are multiple dimensions to your proposal that may be better assessed and as separate projects.

In relation to the sediment savings targets, are the targets in tonnes per year or are they by the end of the four years of funding?

The targets are a long-term average annual reduction. It is not a cumulative amount but what the relevant catchment model suggests would be reduce every year (e.g. by the end of the Bowen Broken Bogie program, on average each year there should be 332 kt less of fine sediment reaching the end of the catchment). The targets have been developed based on the Paddock to Reef Source catchment modelling.

In the Upper Burdekin, the sediment savings target suggests an abatement cost of approximately $96/tonne/year, and of approximately $85/tonne/year for the Bowen Broken Bogie. Aren’t these targets too optimistic?

Those are the values that we are targeting, and they were developed based on the best information available on the cost and efficacy of the likely types of projects. Ultimately, through the proposals that come forward we will identify the cost-effectiveness that organisations think they can deliver.

Considering that native pasture seed is non-procurable in commercial quantities and at a reasonable price, can exotic species be used for land rehabilitation projects?

There are no specific exclusions to the use of exotic species within the Reef Trust Partnership. However, activities will need to comply with any relevant biosecurity legislation and ensure the activity will not have an adverse environmental impact.

Will woody weed control projects to improve pasture cover be funded under the program?

In principle, any type of intervention that will result in a water quality improvement can be considered. (Noting that all project activities will need to comply with any relevant legislation and not have any adverse environmental impacts.) As for all other proposals, such a project would need to present evidence regarding the expected water quality improvements as a result of the project activities. This should be based on defensible science quantified – e.g. removal of X ha of woody weed cover and conversion/return to pastures will result in a reduction in fine sediment runoff of Y tons of fine sediment at end of catchment.

What level of detail is required regarding health and safety and the risk assessment documentation and the risk assessment plan? Is it at an organisation policy level or down into site specific risk assessment detail?

Applicants are required to provide copies of their Health and Safety Policy and Procedures as part of their submission (organisation policy level). In terms of risk assessment, a Risk Management Plan needs to be completed to indicate the project risks, management/mitigation actions, and the estimated timing (see example to risk management table in section 3.6 of the application form). Further detail may be requested by GBRF prior to executing the contract.

Have the members of the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) been selected?

Not yet. This is still an ongoing process that we aim to complete shortly.

Will the targets for sediment reduction be based on the Reef Trust Gully and Streambank Toolbox?

The overall targets that we have set at the programs level are indicated in the Grant Guidelines. Based on this, each project proposal should set out its own targets. From a Monitoring and Evaluation perspective, all projects will be required to report to Paddock to Reef using the Gully and Streambank Toolbox. We anticipate there will also be additional, local water quality monitoring undertaken to support the modelled estimates that are generated using the Toolbox.

Does the entire project team need to be specified in the proposal, including the earthworks contractors that would be utilised?

Given that this Grant is asking for detailed project proposals, the project team should be specified as much as possible. However, we do not require details of the earthwork contractors. Where possible, proposals should identify the proposed approach to selecting and appointing any contractors who are not listed in the proposal.

Given the current COVID-19 restrictions, and the possible need to visit sites for the development of detailed proposal, will some scope be available to allow for qualifications in proposals by the panel?

Yes. We understand the challenges around the COVID-19 situation, the associated restrictions in travel, and the limits this situation currently imposes in preparing proposals. Please indicate in the proposal what those qualifications might be, how that has limited the proposal preparation, and what you might need to do at a later stage.

Are the Traditional Owner-led projects linked to the current call?

No, there will be separate processes for Traditional Owner-led projects. There is a new governance structure within the RTP Traditional Owner Component that includes a Traditional Owner Water Quality Working Group. This Group will recommend how funds for Traditional-Owner led projects will be released. However, if you identify potential Traditional Owner projects that are linked to your current proposal, please let us know. These will not be considered as part of the current Grant but could be considered in an alternative process.

In relation to the extension work, how far do we need to go in providing details and listing the potential educators/workshop presenters?

Ideally, we would like to see all the information and details available in relation to the personnel who will be working in the project. Note that the capacity of the project team is one of the assessment criteria in this process.

Will feral animal control be considered to reduce grazing pressure and environmental damage?

Any approach that can be demonstrated to achieve cost-effective water quality outcomes will be considered, including feral animal control. Ultimately, these approaches/interventions will be evaluated against the assessment criteria indicated in the Grant Guidelines. As with all proposals, the EOI will need to provide evidence to support claims regarding the effectiveness of the approach in reducing fine sediment, including quantifying the expected load reduction as a result of the project, as well as evidence that the proposed approach has been successfully implemented previously.

Could the Foundation make available the GIS boundaries for each of the regions included in the current WQ Grant?

Please refer to the maps in the guidelines to identify the regions’ boundaries. The shape files showing more exact boundaries are available and can be shared on request.

In the specific case of the Herbert catchment, GBRF has proposed two separate water quality programs. The Upper Herbert program is focussed on reducing fine sediment, and Lower Herbert is focussed on DIN. The programs have been named in this way because the expectation is that interventions addressing sediment will most likely be undertaken in the upper part of the catchment, while DIN focussed projects are more likely to be undertaken in the lower catchment. However, GBRF has not defined a spatial boundary between the upper and lower catchment, and for both the Upper and Lower Herbert programs, projects at any location within the Herbert catchment will be eligible.