Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate the ABS website
ABS Home > Statistics > By Release Date
1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2005  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 21/01/2005   
   Page tools: Print Print Page RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product  
Contents >> Environment >> Water supply and use

Water is critical for supporting Australia's physical, social and economic environment. By world standards Australia is a dry continent with few freshwater resources. In some regions the biological condition of the river, wetlands and groundwater dependent ecosystems has been severely impacted by the extraction of large volumes of water for agriculture, household and industrial use.

Diagram 24.18 shows the supply and use of water in Australia. During 2000-01, 72,431 gigalitres (GL) of water was extracted from the environment and used within the Australian economy. Of this amount, 12,784 GL was extracted by water providers, mostly by the water supply, sewerage and drainage services industry (12,765 GL), while water users directly extracted 59,647 GL. Of the volume extracted by water providers, 12,324 GL was supplied as mains water to water users and 459 GL was returned to the environment as environmental flows.

Of the 72,431 GL of water extracted from the environment in 2000-01, most was used in-stream (mainly for hydro-electricity generation) and is available almost immediately for use further downstream. Excluding this 'non-consumptive' use of water, Australian industries and households used 24,909 GL of water in 2000-01.


24.18 WATER SUPPLY AND USE IN THE AUSTRALIAN ECONOMY - 2000-01
Daigram 24.18: WATER SUPPLY AND USE IN THE AUSTRALIAN ECONOMY - 2000-01

Source: Water Account, Australia, 2000-01 (4610.0).


Water consumption by industry

Agriculture was by far the largest consumer of water in 2000-01, accounting for 67% (16,660 GL) of total water use in Australia (graph 24.19, table 24.20). Households were the next highest consumers of water, accounting for 8.8% (2,181 GL) of water use. Total water use in households increased 19% from 1996-97. The average household water use was 115 kilolitres/person in 2000-01. The water supply, sewerage and drainage services industry was also a significant consumer of water, accounting for 7.2% (1,794 GL) of water use, followed by the electricity and gas supply industry which consumed 6.8% (1,688 GL), excluding in-stream water use for hydro-electricity generation. Mining accounted for 1.6% (401 GL) of water use. Metal ore mining (284 GL) and coal mining (72 GL) collectively contributed 89% of water consumption in the mining industry. Manufacturing accounted for 3.5% (866 GL) of the total water consumption in 2000-01. The food, beverage and tobacco industry was the highest user of water within the manufacturing industry with 242 GL used (28% of manufacturing), while the wood and paper products industry contributed 175 GL (or 20%).

Graph 24.19: WATER CONSUMPTION, By industry - 2000-01




New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory combined used the most water - 9,425 GL (or 38% of the total) - and 78% of this was used in agriculture. In Victoria, agriculture accounted for 52% of the total, however, the electricity and gas supply industry also contributed a high proportion (22%) compared with that contributed by other states and territories.


24.20 INDUSTRY AND HOUSEHOLD WATER CONSUMPTION - 2000-01
NSW
Vic.
Qld
SA
WA
Tas.
NT
Aust.
GL
GL
GL
GL
GL
GL
GL
GL

Agriculture
7,322
3,725
3,454
1,302
565
222
70
16,660
Forestry and fishing(a)
3
4
2
1
10
2
0
23
Mining
52
7
109
12
195
21
5
401
Manufacturing
179
249
181
86
83
79
9
866
Electricity and gas supply
59
1,536
71
2
19
0
1
1,688
Water supply(b)
676
745
216
24
114
10
9
1,794
Other
254
148
172
38
175
24
22
832
Households
679
472
501
181
245
59
45
2,181

(a) Includes services to agriculture; hunting and trapping.
(b) Includes sewerage and drainage services.

Source: Water Account, Australia, 2000-01 (4610.0).


Water use by agriculture

Water used by agriculture includes water applied through irrigation to crops, pastures, or fed to livestock, that has been directly extracted from the environment by farmers (e.g. from bores, on-farm dams, rivers) or supplied by water providers (e.g. irrigation authorities). It excludes the use of rainwater.

Agricultural water use varied between crops and between states and territories. New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory combined were the largest users of water for agriculture accounting for 7,322 GL or 44% of total agricultural water use in 2000-01.

In 2000-01 the livestock, pasture, grains and other agriculture industry (which includes cut flowers, nurseries, turf growing and other commodities) was the largest user of water in agriculture (5,568 GL or 33%) followed by the cotton industry (2,908 GL or 17%), dairy farming (which includes livestock and irrigated pastures and grains for dairy farming purposes) (2,834 GL or 17%) and rice (1,951 GL or 12%) (table 24.21).


24.21 WATER USE IN THE AGRICULTURE, By industry - 2000-01
NSW and ACT
Vic.
Qld
SA
WA
Tas.
NT
Aust.
GL
GL
GL
GL
GL
GL
GL
GL

Livestock, pasture, grains, and other agriculture
2,590
1,435
779
474
176
85
30
5,568
Dairy
401
1,685
288
320
65
76
. .
2,834
Vegetables
96
131
103
65
111
49
1
556
Fruit
214
209
107
161
65
10
36
803
Grapes
174
238
6
284
23
1
3
729
Sugar
1
. .
1,186
. .
124
. .
. .
1,311
Cotton
1,921
. .
985
. .
3
. .
. .
2,908
Rice
1,924
27
. .
. .
. .
. .
. .
1,951
Total(a)
7,322
3,725
3,454
1,302
565
222
70
16,660

(a) Sums may not necessarily equal totals due to rounding.

Source: Water Account, Australia, 2000-01 (4610.0).


Household water use

Water use by households (also referred to as domestic water use) includes water that is used for human consumption (such as for drinking and cooking) as well as water used by households for cleaning or outdoors (such as water for gardens and swimming pools).

In 2000-01 the total water used by households was 2,181 GL, increasing from 1,829 GL in 1996-97 and 1,704 GL in 1993-94. This rise can be attributed in part to an increase of population (6% nationally from 1993-94 to 2000-01) and improved coverage and reporting in 2000-01. Climate plays a significant role in household water use. The majority of household water was used for outdoor purposes (44%), followed by indoor uses, including bathrooms (20%) and toilets (15%) (graph 24.22).

Graph 24.22: HOUSEHOLD WATER USE(a), By location of use - 2000-01




Of the total water used by households in 2000-01, 96% (2,085,768 ML) was supplied by mains and 4% (95,512 ML) of water was from a self-extracted source (i.e. rainwater tanks and direct extraction from surface waterways or groundwater). South Australia has the highest proportion of rainwater tanks (48%) of any state or territory (graph 24.23).

Graph 24.23: PROPORTION OF HOUSEHOLDS WITH RAINWATER TANKS




Reuse water

Reuse water is defined as wastewater that may have been treated to some extent and then used again without first being discharged to the environment. Reuse water is supplied mainly by the water supply industry, but may also be supplied by other industries (such as mining and manufacturing). Reuse water supplied by irrigation/rural water providers through regional reuse schemes has also been included.

The use of reuse water has increased almost threefold since 1996-97, although the volume used is still relatively small. In 1996-97 there were 134,424 millilitres (ML) of reuse water used in Australia, which made up less than 1% of total water use in that year. By 2000-01 this volume had increased to 516,563 ML. However, this use still accounted for less than 1% of total water use. A large proportion of reuse water use is sourced from rural/irrigation regional reuse schemes.

The agriculture industry was the largest user of reuse water in 2000-01, accounting for 423,264 ML or 82% of all reuse water used in Australia (graph 24.24). The majority of reuse water used by the agriculture industry was for application to pastures (45%), although rice crops were also significant users (29%).

Graph 24.24: REUSE WATER USE, By industry



Previous PageNext Page

Bookmark and Share. Opens in a new window


Commonwealth of Australia 2014

Unless otherwise noted, content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence together with any terms, conditions and exclusions as set out in the website Copyright notice. For permission to do anything beyond the scope of this licence and copyright terms contact us.