The former depot site at Walton Street has been empty for over 20 years, as a previous flood risk meant the land could not be developed.
It is now intended to transform the land into a new green space, with a dramatic rewilding of the Levern Water at its centrepiece.
The river would be widened and rechannelled to create an accessible and attractive waterfront that can absorb increased heavy rainfall caused by climate change.
Local residents would also be able to enjoy new paths, river bank seating, wild flower meadows and woodland.
Council Leader Tony Buchanan said: “I am delighted that Scottish Government funding will support the transformation of this derelict piece of land, which would be a welcome addition to the local area.
"The impact of Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdowns have shown us just how important high quality local greenspaces are for our health and wellbeing.
"This river work would not only help Barrhead adapt to climate change but would also be an attractive area for our local residents and visitors to enjoy.”
Carlibar Primary School are working with the Clyde River Foundation to survey the river’s biodiversity, collecting fish DNA to send to the USA for analysis - with
research as part of their learning linked to the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.
A grant from SEPA’s Water Environment fund kick-started a study to look at how the river could once again be part of the life of the town.
Lucie Stewart, SEPA restoration specialist, said: “SEPA is working closely with our partner East Renfrewshire Council, through the Water Environment Fund, to improve the Levern Water and return it to a more natural form and bring migratory fish back.
"SEPA is delighted to join funding with the Scottish Government in order to carry out these planned works for the good of the environment and the community of Barrhead.
"The Water Environment Fund enables rivers to be restored by repairing damaged urban rivers, often in deprived areas, to enhance the environment for the communities that live there.”
Planning permission for the project will be submitted in due course, with it hoped work will begin in early 2022.