How was water used by the economy?

This section reviews how the 18,767 gigalitres of water has been used across Australia and how this has changed over time. The majority of information for this section of the report has been sourced from the Water Account, Australia, 2004–05, with supplementary information from the ABS publication, Water Use on Australian Farms.

Water consumption by economic sector and industry, by jurisdiction in Australia for 2004-05

 

State or Territory

 

ACT NSW NT QLD SA TAS VIC WA Australia

Water consumption in 2004–05 (GL)

Agriculture

1

4,133

47

2,916

1,020

258

3,281

535

12,191

Forestry and fishing

<1

11

<1

3

<1

4

8

25

52

Mining

<1

63

17

83

19

16

32

183

413

Manufacturing

<1

126

6

158

55

49

114

81

589

Electricity and gas supply

-

76

1

81

3

<1

99

13

271

Water supply

5

631

8

426

71

20

793

128

2,083

Other

17

310

30

201

52

18

262

168

1,059

House hold

31

573

31

493

144

69

405

362

2,108

Total

56

5,922

141

4,361

1365

434

4,993

1495

18,767

Water consumption in 2000–01 (GL)

Total

8,783

134

4,267

1,383

408

5,375

1,353

21,703

Source: Water Account, Australia, 2004–05
Note: Forestry and fishing includes services to agriculture. Mining includes the following categories: coal mining, oils and gas extraction, metal or mining, other mining, and services to mining (comprises construction material mining (quarrying); mining exploration).

Loy Yang Power Station, Victoria – Coal driven electricity power stations use water for both steam production and cooling
Loy Yang Power Station, Victoria – Coal driven electricity power stations use water for both steam production and cooling
Image by Suse Hayes, sourced from SKM

Nationally, water consumption for 2004–05 was 18,767 gigalitres, which was less than the 21,703 gigalitres consumed in 2000–01. The agriculture industry had the highest water consumption, accounting for 12,191 gigalitres (65 per cent) of total water consumption, a decrease from 14,989 gigalitres in 2000–01. Households were the second highest consumer of water in 2004–05, accounting for 2108 gigalitres. The water supply, sewerage and drainage services industry was a significant consumer of water, accounting for 2083 gigalitres (11 per cent) of water consumption (mostly due to losses in distribution), followed by manufacturing with 589 gigalitres (3 per cent).

Water consumption (proportions) by the different sectors of the economy in Australia for 2004–05, and a comparison (volumes) with 2000-01

Water consumption (proportions) by the different sectors of the economy in Australia for 2004–05, and a comparison (volumes) with 2000-01

State and territory assessments

New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory

In New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory combined, total water consumption was 5978 gigalitres during 2004–05, which is less than the 8783 gigalitres consumed in 2000–01. In 2004–05, the highest consumer was the agriculture industry with 4134 gigalitres (69 per cent of total water consumption); the water supply, sewerage and drainage services industry was the next highest consumer with 637 gigalitres (11 per cent). It should be noted that agricultural use of water declined in New South Wales due to reduced water availability and a reduction in the amount of water used by the rice and cotton industries.

Northern Territory

In the Northern Territory, 141 gigalitres of water was consumed in 2004–05; 134 gigalitres was consumed in 2000–01. In 2004–05, the agriculture industry accounted for 47 gigalitres (33 per cent of the Northern Territory’s water consumption). The next highest consumer of water was households, consuming 31 gigalitres (22 per cent). Other industries collectively consumed 30 gigalitres (21 per cent).

Queensland

In Queensland, 4361 gigalitres of water was consumed in 2004–05, which is more than the 4267 gigalitres consumed in 2000–01. The agriculture industry consumed the most water in 2004–05, accounting for 2916 gigalitres (67 per cent of Queensland's water consumption). Sugar and cotton were the main consumers within the agriculture industry, consuming 1116 gigalitres and 857 gigalitres respectively. The next largest consumers were households, using 493 gigalitres (11 per cent of Queensland's water consumption).

South Australia

Water consumption in South Australia was 1365 gigalitres in 2004–05, which was less than the 1383 gigalitres consumed in 2000–01. The agriculture industry was the largest consumer of water in 2004–05, accounting for 1020 gigalitres (75 per cent of South Australia's water consumption). This was the largest proportional water consumption by any one industry of all the states and territories. Livestock, pasture, grains and other agriculture had the highest water consumption within the agriculture industry, consuming 483 gigalitres (47 per cent of South Australia’s agricultural industry’s water consumption). The second highest was grapes, with 204 gigalitres (20 per cent). Water consumption by fruit was also significant (144 gigalitres or 14 per cent of water consumed by the agriculture industry). Households were also large consumers of water, using 144 gigalitres (11 per cent of South Australia's water consumption).

Tasmania

Water consumption in Tasmania was 434 gigalitres in 2004–05, with 408 gigalitres consumed in 2000–01. In 2004–05, the agriculture industry was the largest consumer, accounting for 258 gigalitres (59 per cent of water consumption in the state). Households were also a major consumer of water in Tasmania, using 69 gigalitres (16 per cent). The manufacturing industry consumed 49 gigalitres (11 per cent), with most of that consumed by the wood and paper products industry (71 per cent of water consumed by the manufacturing industry in Tasmania).

Victoria

In Victoria, 4993 gigalitres of water was consumed in 2004–05, which is lower than the 5375 gigalitres consumed in 2000–01. The agriculture industry was the highest consumer of water in 2004–05, with 3281 gigalitres (66 per cent of Victoria's water consumption). The water supply, sewerage and drainage services industry was the second highest consumer of water, accounting for 793 gigalitres (16 per cent). Households were also a significant consumer of water with 405 gigalitres (8 per cent of Victoria's water consumption).

Western Australia

In Western Australia, 1495 gigalitres of water was consumed in 2004–05; 1353 gigalitres were consumed in 2000–01. In 2004–05, the agriculture industry consumed the largest volume (535 gigalitres or 36 per cent of water consumed in Western Australia), and households consumed 362 gigalitres (24 per cent). Consumption by the mining industry was also substantial (183 gigalitres or 12 per cent), due to a significant level of mining activity in Western Australia.

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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.29/06/2007