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WATER USE AND CONSERVATION
Water conservation devices and practices
Data presented in this article were sourced from the following publications: Water Account for Australia, 1993-94 to 1996-97 (cat. no. 4610.0); Water Account, Australia, 2000-01 (cat. no. 4610.0); and Environmental Issues: People’s Views and Practices, March 2004 (cat. no. 4602.0). Both Water Account publications follow the flow of water through the Australian economy by measuring the amounts of water supplied and used by various sectors of the Australian economy for the years 1993-94 to 1996-97, and 2000-01. Data for these publications were compiled from already existing data from non-government and government sources. Environmental Issues: People’s Views and Practices, March 2004 (cat. no. 4602.0) presents information on the environmental behaviour and practices of Australian households. The data in this publication were derived from a supplement of the Australian Bureau of Statistics Monthly Population Survey conducted in March 2004.
WATER SUPPLY AND USE
It should be noted that the terms water use and water consumption, while similar, differ slightly in definition. The term ‘water use’ includes the total volume of self-extracted water, mains water, and reuse water. ‘Water consumption’ includes that measured in water use (the summation of self-extracted water, mains water, and reuse water), minus water supplied to other users and water used in-stream (e.g. hydro-electricity generation and aquaculture).
For most industries, water use and water consumption are the same, as most industries do not have any in-stream use or supply water to other users. The main industries that do not ‘consume’ all of the water used, that supply water to users or use water in-stream, are the Electricity and Gas Supply and Water Supply, Sewerage and Drainage Services industries. Further information is available in the Water Account, Australia, 2000-01 publication.
For households, water use is the same as water consumption, and includes water for drinking, cooking, cleaning, gardening and swimming pools.
In 2000-01, Queensland households used 501 GL (one gigalitre equals 1,000 million litres) of water or 6.0% of the total water used in Queensland during this period (Graph 1). This represents an increase of 82 GL (or 20%) since 1996-97, when Queensland households consumed 419 GL of water. This rise can be attributed in part to a 6.9% increase in the Queensland population from June 97 to June 2001 (footnote 2) and improved coverage and reporting in the water account.
In Queensland, the agriculture sector was the largest user of water in 2000-01 (3,454 GL), accounting for 41% of Queensland’s water use. Within the agricultural sector, sugar production was the largest water user, with 13% (1,186 GL) of the total water used in Queensland, followed by cotton production at 11% (985 GL).
GRAPH 1 WATER USE BY SECTOR, Queensland - 1996-97 and 2000-01
In 2000-01, Queensland had the second highest water use per household, recording an average 338 kL per household. Queensland households used 21% more water on average than that used by Australian households (280 kL) (Graph 2). This and other variations in water consumption observed across Australia could be related to differences in climate between the states and territories.
Water use per household in Queensland decreased by 21 kL (5.8%) between 1993-94 and 2000-01, while the national household water use increased by 20 kL (7.7%) over the same period.
GRAPH 2 WATER USE PER HOUSEHOLD, States and territories - 1993-94, 1996-97, and 2000-01
Table 3 shows that while water was supplied from a variety of sources, most Queensland households (89%) were connected to the mains/town water supply in 2004. Queensland had one of the lowest proportions of households sourcing water from the mains/town water supply (89%), and the third highest rate of rainwater tank usage (17.4% compared with 17.2% nationally). Household use of bottled water saw considerable growth in Queensland recently, increasing from 2.1% in 1994 to 17% in 2004.
TABLE 3 SOURCES OF WATER IN HOUSEHOLDS(a), States and territories - 1994 and 2004
In 2004, 98% of households in the Brisbane Statistical Division (SD) used mains water while 4.8% sourced water from a rainwater tank (Graph 4). The dependence on mains/towns water was less in the rest of the state, where 81% of households used mains water and 28% used rainwater tanks.
GRAPH 4 SOURCES OF WATER IN HOUSEHOLDS, Queensland - 2004
Mains/town water supplied the majority of household gardening (95%), bathing, showering, and washing (98%), and drinking water (92%) in the Brisbane SD in 2004 (Table 5).
Water supply for these activities was more varied in the balance of the state. Three-quarters (75%) of the water supply for gardening in the rest of Queensland was sourced from mains/ town water, with the remainder mostly sourced from bores/wells (12%) and rainwater tanks (7.0%). For bathing, showering and washing, most households in the rest of the state (80%) used mains/town water and 15% used rainwater tanks. Even though drinking water was heavily sourced (69%) from mains/town water, a considerable share (24%) of drinking water was sourced from rainwater tanks in the balance of Queensland.
TABLE 5 MAIN SOURCE OF HOUSEHOLD WATER FOR GARDENING, BATHING, SHOWERING, AND WASHING, AND DRINKING, Queensland - 2004
WATER CONSERVATION DEVICES AND PRACTICES
Over the 10 year period from 1994 to 2004 there has been a marked increase in the proportion of Queensland households using water conservation devices at home (Table 6). In 2004, 75% of households had a dual flush toilet (up from 32% in 1994), 44% had a reduced flow shower head (up from 23%), and only 17% had neither (down from 55%).
While use of water conservation devices increased between 1994 and 2004, water saving behaviours decreased in Queensland over the same period. Turning off/repairing leaking taps was the most common water conservation behaviour (19%) in 2004, yet it was practised by 30% of households in 1994. Even though common household water saving practices, such as taking shorter showers (15%) and doing full loads of washing/dishes (14%), stayed relatively stable between 1994 and 2004, the proportion of households that did not perform any conservation practices increased from 47% to 59% over this period.
TABLE 6 WATER CONSERVATION DEVICES AND PRACTICES USED INSIDE DWELLINGS, Queensland - 1994 and 2004
Table 7 summarises the water saving practices of Queensland households outside the house. The proportion of gardens in Queensland households decreased from 86% in 1998 to 83% in 2004. Using mulch was the most common conservation behaviour outside the house in 2004, practised by 53% of Queensland households with gardens, followed by watering in the early or latter parts of the day (18%), and using recycled water in the garden (14%). The proportion of Queensland households that practised these water saving measures generally increased between 1998 and 2004 and most likely reflect the positive impact of water restrictions in Queensland.
Queensland households were below the national rates in most categories, where 59% of Australian households used mulch, 23% watered their garden at low evaporation times, and 18% used recycled water.
TABLE 7 WATER CONSERVATION MEASURES APPLIED OUTSIDE DWELLINGS, Queensland and Australia - 1998 and 2004
Table 8 shows that a large proportion of households (67%) hand-watered their garden in Queensland in 2004. While hand-watering remained stable between 1998 and 2004, sprinkler usage declined over this period. In 1998, 31% of households used moveable sprinklers and 23% used sprinkler systems, decreasing to 21% and 20%, respectively, in 2004. This is also consistent with the impact of water restrictions on sprinkler usage in some Queensland regions.
TABLE 8 WATERING METHODS USED FOR HOUSEHOLDS THAT WATER THEIR GARDEN, Queensland - 1998 and 2004
In 2004, 261,000 or 17% of households reported having a rainwater tank, down from 18% (202,000) in 1994 (Table 9).
Of those households with rainwater tanks, 88% reported that their tanks provided a sufficient supply of water. Sufficiency has increased slightly over the past 10 years, with 85% of Queensland households reporting a sufficient level of water from their rainwater tanks in 1994.
For households without a rainwater tank, 31% considered installing a rainwater tank in 2004, up from 25% in 1994. Of these households, 42% reported cost as the most common factor preventing them from installing a rainwater tank, followed by a lack of time (25%).
TABLE 9 RAINWATER TANK SUFFICIENCY AND FACTORS PREVENTING INSTALLING A RAINWATER TANK, Queensland - 1994 and 2004
1. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Year Book Australia, 2004, cat. no. 1301.02. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Demographic Statistics, December 2005, Table 4, Spreadsheets, cat. no. 3101.0
Water Account for Australia, 1993-94 to 1996-97 (cat. no. 4610.0)
Water Account, Australia, 2000-01 (cat. no. 4610.0)
Year Book Australia, 2004 (cat. no. 1301.0)
Environmental Issues: People’s Views and Practices, March 2004 (cat. no. 4602.0)