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4610.0 - Water Account, Australia, 2008-09  
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EXPLANATORY NOTES


INTRODUCTION

1 The ABS Water Account Australia is one of the physical accounts produced by the ABS as part of an environmental accounting system. It consists of supply and use tables (collectively referred to as flow tables) for both physical and monetary volumes. The aim of the Water Account Australia is to integrate data from different sources into a consolidated information set making it possible to link physical data on water to economic data, such as that in Australia's National Accounts.

2 Environmental-Economic accounts can facilitate the understanding of a range of issues that include:

  • a broader assessment of the consequences of economic growth;
  • the contribution of sectors to particular environmental problems; and
  • implications of environmental policy measures across sectors (for example, regulation, charges and incentives).

3 One advantage of environmental-accounts is that by linking together physical and economic data in a consistent framework it is possible to undertake scenario modelling. Issues that can be modelled include future water demand, assessing relative efficiencies in interactions between different sectors of the economy and the environment, and resource implications of structural change.

4 When the ABS produced the 1993-94 to 1996-97 and 2000-01 Water Accounts, any readily available data on water resources from various government and non-government organisations was used and aggregated. This tied together industry, regional and State data into a single system showing the supply and use of water within the Australian economy.

5 To produce the 2004-05 and 2008-09 Water Accounts, an ABS survey of water providers was undertaken and supplementary questions were added to several existing ABS surveys. This approach simplified compilation of the account as well as reducing the time required to produce the account. The survey approach also helped to improve the comparability and consistency of data, allowing analysis and evaluation over time. As with previous Water Accounts, data from other sources was also used to fill gaps, as well as for data consistency and checking. The survey activity undertaken by the ABS for 2008-09 collected comprehensive data on all organisations supplying water in the water supply industry in Australia and more detailed information on water use from across the economy.


ENVIRONMENTAL ACCOUNTING FRAMEWORK

6 The Water Account Australia was developed using the System of Integrated Environmental and Economic Accounting (SEEA) and the SEEA-Water (UN 2006a). SEEA was first published by the United Nations (UN) in 1993 (UN 1993a), and revised in 2003 (UN 2003a). SEEA is a supplementary account to the System of National Accounts 1993 (UN 1993b). Environmental accounts extend the boundaries of the System of National Accounts (SNA) framework to include environmental resources, which occur outside the economic production and asset boundaries measured by the SNA.


RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE WATER ACCOUNTS AND NATIONAL ACCOUNTS

7 Water supply and use tables provide a framework to link core components of the National Accounts to physical information. These tables are a component of physical input-output (I-O) tables and allow comparison of physical and monetary information through interactions between the economy and environment. Physical data are presented in supply and use tables while some linkages to economic data are also made.


PHYSICAL SUPPLY AND USE

Scope

8 Chapter 2 aggregates all available physical data (megalitres) in terms of the supply and use of water within the Australian economy for the financial year 2008-09. Supply and use tables include: self-extracted, distributed, and regulated discharge (including in-stream use) and effluent reuse.

9 The use of saline water (including water from estuaries) for power generation and other industrial uses, although measurable and reported, is not included in the supply and use tables. This is because the scope of the Water Account Australia is fresh water only.


Coverage

10 Coverage for both supply and use tables includes the following:
  • individuals and companies that directly extract water from surface water and groundwater sources for their own use (e.g. domestic, industrial, agricultural or other uses);
  • individuals and companies that use water supplied by water providers for domestic, industrial, agricultural or other uses;
  • water providers that extract water from surface water, groundwater and sea water for desalination, and supply it to customers for use (e.g. households, industrial, or other use). The majority of water providers are categorised in Water Supply, Sewerage and Drainage Services industry (ANZSIC 281) but the Mining, Manufacturing and Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services industries also supply a small amount of water; and
  • water providers that provide reuse water to their customers; other large organisations who treat water and make it available for subsequent reuse; other large organisations who discharge water directly to the environment (e.g. power stations, mines); and major in-stream water users, for example aquaculture and hydro-electricity generation, where this information was available.

11 Items not covered by the supply and use tables include:
  • the reuse/recycling of water on-farm or on-site (i.e. within homes or businesses);
  • non-point/diffuse discharges;
  • the impact of storm water infiltration into the sewerage reticulation system.


Data Sources

12 Data have come from a range of ABS surveys as well as State, Territory and Local Government agencies, water authorities and industry organisations.

13 The main ABS surveys used were:
  • 2008-09 Water Supply and Sewerage Services Survey
  • 2008-09 Agricultural Survey
  • 2008-09 Energy, Water and Environment Survey
  • 2008-09 Electricity Generators Survey of Water Use

14 State and Territory government agencies and major businesses from which data was used in this publication include:
  • In New South Wales, State Water Corporation and the NSW Office of Water. In particular, the 2008-09 NSW Water Supply and Sewerage Benchmarking Report (DECCW 2010a).
  • In Victoria, the Department of Sustainability and Environment. In particular, the 2008-09 Victorian Water Accounts, (DSE 2010a).
  • In Queensland, the Queensland Statewide Water Information Management (SWIM) under arrangements with the Queensland Water Directorate.
  • In South Australia, SA Water.
  • In Western Australia, the Department of Water, the Economic Regulatory Authority and WA Water Corporation.
  • In Tasmania, the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment.
  • In the Northern Territory, the Power and Water Corporation.
  • In the Australian Capital Territory, ACTEW.

15 Surveys conducted by other government agencies, industry associations, as well as annual reports of water providers were used. These include:
  • National Water Commission (NWC) and Water Services Association Australia (WSAA) 2008-09 National Performance Report - Urban Water Utilities (NWC, WSAA & NWI 2010).
  • National Water Commission (NWC) National Performance Report 2008-2009: Rural Water Service Providers (NWC 2009).
  • Annual/environmental reports for 2008-09 for various water providers (lists of those that provided a water supply or sewerage service were collected from State agencies and industry contacts).


Methods for Calculating Water Supply and Use

16 These notes are intended as a general guide to the method of calculating estimates of water supply and use. For more detail on the methods please contact the Director, Environmental Accounts and Water (EAW), Australian Bureau of Statistics.

17 Supply and use tables integrate data from a wide range of sources. Some of the water supply and use data are from decentralised sources as most water distribution is managed by local governments or privatised water authorities. The data collected from these sources were collated to a uniform standard and aggregated to a State and Territory level.

18 A complete list of water providers in 2008-09 was compiled from information supplied by State and Territory regulatory departments, industry bodies, and other water data providers. All water providers identified were surveyed in the ABS 2008-09 Water Supply and Sewerage Services Survey.

19 Water providers provided information on:
  • Volume of water extracted from the environment and/or the volume of water received from other water providers (this information was used to reconcile total supplies and to avoid double counting of water volumes).
  • Volumes of water supplied to particular industries (e.g. Agriculture, Mining and Manufacturing) and for household use. This information was reconciled with water use as reported by water users. It also enabled the calculation of coefficients (e.g. ML/employee) for industries for which there was little or no data on water use.
  • The amount of water used by the water supply organisation (including mains flushing and water used on parks and gardens operated by councils that supplied water).
  • Volume of water lost from the supply system (including customer meter errors and system water losses).
  • Volume of water discharged by location.
  • Volumes of reuse water supplied to particular industries (e.g. agriculture, mining and manufacturing) and for household use. Water reuse volumes were not imputed where water providers did not provide reuse water volumes.
  • Distributed water supplied to households and the number of connections served by water supply and sewerage services. Where information was not available for distributed water supplied to households, neighbouring or matched Local Government Area (LGA) coefficients based on average megalitre use per connection were used.
  • The amount of water released for environmental flows. This only includes those environmental flows released in accordance with a specific plan prepared in conjunction and/or approved by the appropriate environmental (resource) regulator (see Explanatory Note 25).

20 For agriculture;
  • Distributed water consumption was the amount supplied to the Agriculture industry by water providers.
  • Total water consumption by Agriculture was sourced from the 2008-09 ABS Agriculture Survey. The amount of distributed water consumed was subtracted from total water consumed, the remainder was assumed to be self-extracted water. Note that self-extracted water for the Agriculture industry includes all groundwater that is extracted by Agriculture businesses.
  • Reuse water usage includes water used from regional reuse schemes.
  • Data for Victoria were supplemented by the Victorian Water Register (Department of Sustainability and Environment, State Government Victoria, 2010).
  • The data presented in this publication are similar but slightly different to those data presented in Water Use on Australian Farms, 2008-09 (ABS cat. no. 4618.0) (ABS 2010). This is because of the multiple data sources used in the 2008-09 Water Account Australia, compared to the single source of ABS survey data used for Water Use on Australian Farms, 2008-09. The main difference between the two publications is the total water consumption estimates for Victoria and Western Australia, which are slightly higher in the Water Account Australia, for the reasons described above. Similar differences occur between the 2004-05 edition of Water Use on Australian Farms and the 2004-05 Water Account Australia. Note that 2004-05 estimates presented in the 2008-09 Water Account Australia are the same as those presented in the 2004-05 Water Account Australia.
  • Two different views of agriculture are provided in the 2008-09 Water Account Australia: an industry view and an activity view. In an industry view all businesses are coded to an industry according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC 2006). An industry view provides direct links to the economic information in the System of National Accounts. This enables data such as industry value added to be compared to water consumption.
  • The Agriculture industry view presents only the agricultural activity that occurs in businesses where the primary income producing activity (i.e. the activity with value added that exceeds the value added of any other activity carried out by the same business) of the business is agricultural production. Businesses which undertake some agricultural activity but for which other activities provide most of the income are excluded from the Agriculture industry view. For example, a business which generates most of its income from transporting agricultural produce, but also grows some agricultural commodities would be classified to the industry Transport, Postal and Warehousing. The agricultural production is still counted but is attributed to the Transport, Postal and Warehousing industry. As such the industry view of Agriculture shows a lower level of water consumption than the agricultural activity view.
  • Note that consumption for the Agriculture industry (i.e. businesses with agriculture as their main activity) in 2008-09 was 6,996 GL compared to 7,589 GL for all agricultural activities. This difference of 593 GL can be split into self-extracted (249 GL), distributed (339 GL) and reuse (4 GL).
  • In the Physical and Monetary Supply and Use Tables presented in Chapters 2 and 3 these distributed and reuse components were redistributed amongst the other industries according to the non-agricultural ANZSIC classification of the business undertaking the agricultural activity, as follows:
      • Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing Support Services - 51 GL
      • Manufacturing - 49 GL
      • Mining - 4 GL
      • Forestry and Logging - 3 GL
      • Fishing, Hunting and Trapping - 1 GL
      • Aquaculture - < 1 GL
      • Other industries (see Glossary for complete list of industries) - 237 GL
  • Some of the tables and graphs presented in this publication present an industry view for agriculture, while others present an activity view. Note that the Physical Supply and Use Tables presented in Chapter 2 present the industry view, whereas previous editions of the Water Account Australia presented an activity view, so care must be taken when comparing the two sets of estimates.

21 For Mining and Manufacturing;
  • Distributed water use was the amount supplied to the Mining and Manufacturing industries by water providers.
  • Reuse water use was the amount supplied to the Mining and Manufacturing industries by water providers.
  • Self extracted water use, regulated discharge and distributed water supplied to other businesses/households were sourced from the 2008-09 Energy, Water and Environment Survey, supplemented with information from company websites and annual/environmental reports. Note that the amount of reuse water supplied to other businesses/households was not collected on the 2008-09 Energy, Water and Environment Survey and are displayed as 'not available' in the Physical Supply and Use Tables in Chapter 2 (some of this reuse water supplied to other businesses/households may have been reported by Mining and Manufacturing businesses as distributed water supplied, however the volumes are assumed to be relatively small).
  • Note that self-extracted water for the Mining and Manufacturing industries includes all groundwater that is extracted by Mining and Manufacturing businesses.
  • Mine dewatering was assumed to be self-extracted in-stream use by the Mining industry in all States. This is because the water is usually discharged soon after extraction.

22 For electricity and gas;
  • Distributed, self extracted and in-stream water use, as well as regulated discharge and distributed water supplied to other businesses/households by the Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services industry were sourced from the ABS 2008-09 Electricity Generators Survey of Water Use.

23 For Other industries (see Glossary for list of industries) estimates of water use were sourced from the ABS 2008-09 Energy, Water and Environment Survey and information supplied by water providers, as well as the application of industry specific coefficients. Data on bore water use for parks and gardens in Western Australia was provided by Western Australia's Department of Water.

24 For household water use;
  • Distributed water use was the amount supplied to households by water providers.
  • Self-extracted water use by households was calculated by applying average State kilolitre use per connection coefficients and applying this to the households known not to be served by water providers (estimated by subtracting the connections served by water providers from the total number of households in each State and Territory). Data on domestic bore water use in Western Australia was provided by Western Australia's Department of Water.


Environmental Flows

25 Key Commonwealth, State and Territory water agencies recognise two forms of water used for environmental flows:
  • Planned (rules-based) environmental water relates to statutory requirements to maintain specific water regimes (e.g. particular levels, flow rates, aquifer pressures).
  • Held (entitlement-based) environmental water relates to specific entitlements, which accrue annual allocations of water that can be extracted (or left in-stream) for environmental purposes.

26 Note that the Physical Supply and Use Tables presented in Chapter 2, show water supplied to the environment as Environmental Flows are included on the supply side of the tables in the Distributed column and on the use side of the tables in the Environment row in both the Distributed and Reuse columns. Note that for the 2004-05 Water Account Australia there were no data available for 'reuse' Environmental Flows.

27 Environmental Flows data presented in the 2008-09 Water Account Australia are primarily based on flows of 'held environmental water' as these are volumetric based (i.e. ML) and are reported by water suppliers. Rules-based environmental flows are not always recorded in volume terms and may not always be included within reporting of total environmental water flows. Therefore the estimates of environmental flows presented in the Water Account Australia are likely to be an underestimate and should be used with caution.


Data Quality and Reliability

28 Data for the Water Account Australia are from a range of sources with variable degrees of consistency and reliability.

29 All water supply, distributed water use and reuse water information was collected by the ABS and checked for coherance with other data sources. This information can be used with a high degree of confidence.

30 Data on self-extracted use was compiled from a range of sources. The degree of confidence that can be attached to these estimates is variable.
  • Water Supply and Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services estimates were based on the ABS 2008-09 Water Supply and Sewerage Services Survey and the 2008-09 Electricity Generators Survey of Water Use and can be used with a high degree of confidence.
  • Mining and Manufacturing industries estimates were based on the ABS 2008-09 Energy, Water and Environment Survey and can be used with a moderate degree of confidence at the ANZSIC Division level (i.e. total Manufacturing and total Mining); however, at the ANZSIC subdivision level Mining and Manufacturing estimates should be used with a low degree of confidence.
  • Agriculture industry estimates were based on the ABS 2008-09 Agriculture Survey, and can be used with a high degree of confidence.
  • Only a limited amount of survey data was available for Other industries and estimates were mostly based on coefficients of water use. These estimates can be used with a low degree of confidence.
  • For households, self-extracted water use was based on coefficients of water use and can be used with a moderate degree of confidence.


MONETARY SUPPLY AND USE

Scope

31 Chapter 3 aggregates all available monetary data (dollars) in terms of the supply and use of water within the Australian economy for the financial year 2008-09. Supply and use tables illustrate the economic transactions associated with the use of water and the provisions of sewerage, waste water and drainage services.


Coverage

32 This chapter covers the following:
  • supply of distributed water and water related services in the economy by Water Supply, Sewerage and Drainage Services industry;
  • expenditure on water and sewerage services by industries, households and governments; and
  • value added to the economy for the major industries related to water.

33 The scope of the chapter is limited to "net distributed water" which in this context, is defined as water that has been supplied from one economic unit to another for a fee, creating a measurable economic transaction. The net distributed water excludes distribution losses and supply to the environment for which there is no matching economic transaction.

34 Many businesses and households use self-extracted water for their own use, such as farms for irrigation or hydro power plants to generate electricity. Estimates for the value of self-extracted water have not been included in this chapter due to lack of data.


Data Sources

35 Data presented in this chapter are drawn from a variety of sources including those used by the physical supply and use chapter. In addition to these sources, the following ABS data were used:
36 Administrative sources of data used in the monetary accounts:
  • Water suppliers' annual financial reports
  • Public administration and finance data


Methods for Calculating Monetary Supply and Use

37 The data collected from these sources were collated to a uniform standard and aggregated to a State and Territory level.

38 Output and value added
39 For households
  • Expenditure on water was calculated using estimates from state and territory percentage of total water revenue relating to households. This was supplemented with financial information for all major urban water suppliers from the National Performance Report (NWC, WSAA & NWI 2010), including the number of residential properties receiving water supply services and the average revenue per property.

40 For governments
  • Government expenditure and social transfers in kind monetary data were obtained from ABS Australian System of National Accounts, 2008-09 (unpublished data).

41 For other industries
  • Expenditure was estimated using financial data sourced from ABS 2008-09 Energy, Water and Environment Survey, 2008-09 Agriculture Commodity Survey and 2008-09 Electricity Generators Survey of Water Use.


Data Quality and Reliability

42 At the most aggregated level, such as for the total revenue from sales of water and water related services by the Water Supply, Sewerage and Drainage Services industry (i.e. the supply side estimates), are of high quality. There is less confidence in the estimates of revenue from sales of rural distributed water in some states due to lack of information.

43 Use side estimates for industries and governments were based on several ABS surveys and National Accounts data. There is a lack of information on expenditure on water and related services by industries and governments. Therefore, compared to the supply side, there is less confidence in these estimates.


GROSS VALUE OF IRRIGATED AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION - CHAPTER 5

Data Sources

44 The Gross Value of Irrigated Agricultural Production (GVIAP) was estimated using data from the ABS 2008-09 Agricultural Survey (see Agricultural Commodities, 2008-09, Australia (ABS cat. no. 7121.0), and Water Use on Australian Farms, 2008-09, (ABS cat. no. 4618.0), the ABS 2009 Vineyards survey (see Vineyards Estimates, Australia, 2008-09, (ABS cat. no. 1329.0.55.002) as well as other ABS collections and administrative data used to calculate the value of agricultural commodities produced (see Value of Principal Agricultural Commodities Produced, 2008-09, Australia, (ABS cat. no. 7503.0)).


Method of Calculation

45 The ABS methodology for calculating GVIAP is described in the information paper Methods of estimating the Gross Value of Irrigated Agricultural Production (ABS cat. no. 4610.0.55.006). The GVIAP statistics presented in the 2008-09 Water Account Australia and the publication Experimental Estimates of the Gross Value of Irrigated Agricultural Production, 2000-01 to 2008-09 (ABS cat. no. 4610.0.55.008) are derived using this method. This method is different from that used in previous editions of the Water Account Australia and the resulting GVIAP estimates are not directly comparable.

46 The ABS 2008-09 Agricultural Survey and 2009 Vineyards survey collected information that included area and production of crops, livestock numbers and products, area of crops/pastures irrigated and volume of water applied. The ABS also collects and publishes data on the value of agricultural commodities produced (see ABS cat. no. 7503.0). By using these primary data sources, estimates of the gross value of irrigated agricultural production were made.

47 Different methods were used for different commodities, with the method used dependent on the nature of the commodity and the availability of data. For rice, 100% of the gross value of agricultural production was attributed to irrigation. For cotton, sugar and grapes, the volume of the production from irrigated land was collected directly via the ABS 2008-09 Agricultural Survey. The volumes (in kg/tonnes) were then applied to the unit price values of these commodities in the respective states and territories.

48 Note that for dairy production, GVIAP refers to the value of milk produced from cattle grazing on irrigated land. For dairy production an assumption was made that if there was any irrigation of grazing land on a farm that was involved in any dairy production, then all dairy production on that farm is classified as irrigated.

49 For meat cattle, sheep and other livestock, GVIAP refers to the value of cattle, calves, sheep, lambs and other grazing livestock slaughtered, as well as the value of wool, from livestock grazing on irrigated land. GVIAP for meat cattle, sheep and other livestock was estimated by taking the average of two other methods:
  • calculate the ratio of the area of irrigated grazing land to the total area of grazing land and multiply this ratio by the total production for the commodity group ( this is referred to as the “area formula”);
  • if the farm has any irrigation of grazing land then assume that all livestock production on the farm is irrigated.

50 For all other commodities a yield formula was developed to account for the difference in production that results from irrigation. It uses an estimated ratio of irrigated to non-irrigated yield for each commodity. This ratio is referred to as the "yield difference factor". GVIAP is calculated at the unit (farm) level, using three simple rules:
      a. If the area of the commodity group irrigated = the total area of the commodity group grown/sown, then GVIAP = GVAP for that commodity group;
      b. If the area of the commodity group irrigated is greater than zero but less than the total area of the commodity group grown/sown, then a “yield formula” is applied, with a “yield difference factor”, to calculate GVIAP for the irrigated area of the commodity group;
      c. If the area of the commodity group irrigated = 0, then GVIAP = 0 for that commodity group.

51 It is important to note that the majority of cases follow rules 1 and 3; that is, the commodity group on a particular farm is either 100% irrigated or not irrigated at all. For example, in 2004-05, 90% of total GVAP came from commodity groups that were totally irrigated or not irrigated at all. Therefore, only 10% of GVAP had to be "split" into either "irrigated" or "non-irrigated" using the “yield formula” (described below). The yield formula is explained in full in the information paper Methods of estimating the Gross Value of Irrigated Agricultural Production (ABS cat. no. 4610.0.55.006).

52 Yield difference factors are the estimated ratio of irrigated to non-irrigated yield for a given commodity group. They are calculated for a particular commodity group by taking the yield (production per hectare sown/grown) of all farms that fully irrigated the commodity group and dividing this "irrigated" yield by the yield of all farms that did not irrigate the commodity group. The yield difference factors used here were determined by analysing data from 2000-01 to 2005-06 and are reported for each commodity group in Appendix 1 of the information paper Methods of estimating the Gross Value of Irrigated Agricultural Production (ABS cat. no. 4610.0.55.006). It is anticipated that the yield difference factors will be reviewed following release of data from the 2010-11 Agricultural Census.


Data Quality and Reliability

53 Calculation of the gross value of irrigated production is based on several assumptions so these estimates should be used and interpreted cautiously.


NEXT EDITION

54 The next release of the Water Account Australia, in respect of 2009-10, is scheduled for November 2011. A separate release containing physical and monetary supply and use data for 2000-01 to 2008-09 inclusive is scheduled for 2011. This will include the updates to ANZSIC classifications and address methodological issues enabling better comparisons between water accounts.


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