Australian Bureau of Statistics water accounts

The Australian Bureau of Statistics Water Account, Australia, 2004–05 (third edition) was released in November, 2006 and is the basis for the water use theme of AWR 2005. The water account is a nationally comprehensive picture of water use in Australia. It presents information on the supply and use of water in the Australian economy in 2004–05, compiled in accordance with the System of Integrated Environmental and Economic Accounting as recommended by the United Nations Statistics Division.

The water account is the only source from which complete data on water use by different industries, including households, can be obtained. The publication presents information for:

  • States and territories
  • Industries e.g. Agriculture, Mining, Manufacturing
  • Households
  • Water sources e.g. surface water, groundwater and desalination
  • Large dam storages
  • Rainfall and runoff

The Water Account integrates data from different sources into a consolidated information set, making it possible to link physical data on water to economic data (see graphs below), such as those in Australia‘s national accounts. It is one of the few such water accounts in the world.

The Water Account, Australia, 2004-05 is available on the Publications page, or via the Australian Bureau of Statistics website.

Total water resource and water consumption by jurisdiction in Australia for 2004–05, illustrating the variability in water availability as compared to water consumption across Australia

  

State or Territory

   ACT NSW NT QLD SA TAS VIC WA Australia
Total water resource (GL) 256 45,369 55,784 112,905 4,321 47,056 21,332 49,094 336,117
 Water use (2004–05) (GL)
  • Self-extracted use
84 16,528 145 7,964 1,352 39,081 11,213 3,417 79,784
  • Distributed use
77 3,112 66 2,652 461 229 4,004 736 11,337
  • Reuse
2 194 2 52 22 5 131 18 425
  • In-stream use
0 10,703 4 3,271 8 38,532 5,977 1,939 60,436

 

Total consumption (GL)

56 5,922 141 4,361 1,365 434 4,993 1,495 18,767

Proportion of total water resource consumed by economy

22% 13% <1% 4% 32% 1% 23% 3%

Note: Water consumption figures sourced from Water Account, Australia, 2004–05

  • Water consumption = self extracted use + distributed water use + reuse water use – distributed water supplied to other users – in-stream use – distributed water used by the environment.
  • Columns reported in ‘water use’ do not add up to the total water consumption, as other data relating to distributed water supplied to other users and distributed water used by the environment are not shown – refer to Water Account for more details.
  • ‘Self-extracted use’ includes water extracted directly from the environment for use by the economy, and includes water used consumptively and water returned to the environment after non-consumptive use.

For Australia, the total amount of water extracted from the environment was 79,784 gigalitres, of which 62,455 gigalitres was returned to the environment as regulated discharge (return flows). Most of the regulated discharge back to the environment comprised in-stream water use (60,436 gigalitres), which was almost entirely accounted for by the electricity and gas supply industry for hydroelectric power generation (59,924 gigalitres).

The 79,784 gigalitres of total water supplied was 27 per cent of Australia’s total water resource. The amount from 2004–05 was 4 per cent higher than in  2000–01. This parameter (total water supplied) can be regarded as a surrogate for developed yield, as it records the amount of water that was extracted from the environment.

Water resources and consumption by jurisdiction in Australia for 2000–01 and 2004–05

 

Australia 2004–05
  2000–01 2004–05 ACT NSW NT QLD SA TAS VIC WA

Rainfall (GL)

4,747,475 2,789,424 1,767 406,562 505,623 865,973 147,773 75,189 146,928 639,609

Total water resource (GL) *

 415,096 336,117 256 45,369 55,784 112,905 4,321 47,056 21,332 49,094

Capacity of large dams (GL)

83,312 83,853 120 24,629 280 10,657 258 23,652 12,109 12,148

Volume in large dams at June 30, 2005 (GL)

n/a 39,959 82 8,200 196 5,309 116 11,191 4,729 10,135

Water extracted from environment (GL)

76,668 79,784 84 16,528 145 7,964 1,352 39,081 11,213 3,417
Water consumption (GL) 21,703 18,767 56 5,922 141 4,361 1,365 434 4,993 1,495

Water consumed as a % of water extracted

28% 24% 67% 36% 97% 55% 101%/td> 1% 45% 44%

Source: Water Account, Australia, 2004–05 and 2000-01
* Total water resource for 2000-01 = mean annual run-off + sustainable groundwater yield (< 1500 mg/L TDS) as published in Water Account, Australia, 2000-01

Comparing water use to the amount of water supplied can also provide an insight into the way that water suppliers harvest, use and return water to the environment. This table shows that 76 per cent of the water supplied for economic use actually is returned to the environment in some form.  How the supplied water is used nationally is shown in Figure 25.

Total water consumption in Australia in 2004–05 was 18,767 gigalitres, which represents 24 per cent of the water resource actually supplied to users. Twenty eight per cent of the water resource, 21,703 gigalitres, was consumed by users in 2000–01. While there was a 4 per cent increase in the water supplied to users between 2000–01 and 2004–05, consumptive use decreased 14 per cent over the same period.

The highest rates of water consumption, when compared to total inflows, were in Victoria (23 per cent), New South Wales (13 per cent), South Australia (32 per cent) and the Australian Capital Territory (22 per cent). Queensland, Western Australia, Northern Territory and Tasmania had much lower proportions of consumptive use in relation to total available water.

Water supplied that is returned from the economy to the environment by jurisdiction in Australia in 2004-05

 

Australia 2004–05

 

2000–01 2004–05 ACT NSW NT Qld SA TAS VIC WA

Rainfall (GL)

4,747,475 2,789,424 1,767 406,562 505,623 865,973 147,773 75,189 146,928 639,609

Total water resource (GL) *

415,096 336,117 256 45,369 55,784 112,905 4,321 47,056 21,332 49,094
Capacity of large dams (GL) 83,312 83,853 120 24,629 280 10,657 258 23,652 12,109 12,148

Volume in large dams at June 30, 2005 (GL)

n/a 39,959 82 8,200 196 5,309 116 11,191 4,729 10,135
Water extracted from environment (GL) 76,668 79,784 84 16,528 145 7,964 1,352 39,081 11,213 3,417
Water consumption (GL) 21,703 18,767 56 5,922 141 4,361 1,365 434 4,993 1,495
Water consumed as a % of water extracted 28% 24% 67% 36% 97% 55% 101% 1% 45% 44%

Source: Water Account, Australia, 2004–05

Percentages and volumes of consumption and environmental returns in Australia in 2004–05

Percentages and volumes of consumption and environmental returns in Australia in 2004–05

 

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This website was last updated in 2007. It is no longer being maintained but remains here as an archive for information.22/06/2007