The Waikato River Authority says a number of groups that have asked for grants to clean up the water have not been up to the job - and were after a quick buck.
The authority is a joint iwi-Crown body set up to fund projects that will restore the health of the river.
Last year, 126 applicants sought $56 million of funding - which was whittled down to 46 projects.
But authority co-chair John Luxton says some groups thought the organisation was a soft touch. He says initially, people thought the first funding round was an opportunity to get money quite easily.
However, Mr Luxton says they make checks to ensure every dollar spent will lead to gains in the quality and health of the river.
Mr Luxton says the quality of the applicants and the projects has improved.
This year there has been 60 requests for $10.4 million.
The Government has committed $220 million to the Waikato River Authority over the next 30 years.