4610.0 - Water Account, Australia, 2014-15 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/11/2016   
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MEDIA RELEASE
25 November 2016
Embargoed: 11:30 am (Canberra time)
128/2016

Australian industry paying more for less water

Australian water consumption was 17,375 gigalitres in 2014-15, down by 7 per cent from 2013-14, according to the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

This consumption was the equivalent of almost 35 Sydney Harbours.

Lauren Binns, Director of Environment and Agriculture Statistical Delivery and Communication at the ABS, said the reduction in water consumption for 2014-15 was driven by Australian industry, whose usage decreased by 7 per cent or 1,250 gigalitres over the year.

"The largest decrease in water consumption was in the agriculture industry. Ongoing dry conditions across the eastern states meant farmers used less water for irrigation, so consumption was down 10 per cent to 10,410 gigalitres in 2014-15. This followed an 8 per cent decrease in the previous year," said Ms Binns.

"Despite this decrease, the agriculture industry remained the largest user of water in 2014-15, accounting for nearly 60 per cent of total water consumption.

"The next largest water users were the water supply industry and households, which accounted for 12 and 10 per cent of total water consumption respectively," said Ms Binns.

The decrease in consumption by Australian industry was not reflected in expenditure on water, which increased 9 per cent to $3.1 billion in 2014-15. Other industries - a group that includes construction, retail and other service industries - had the highest expenditure on water by an industry, with $1.8 billion.

"While it used the highest volume of water, the agriculture industry paid only nine cents per kilolitre for that water," said Ms Binns.

"That meant that the industry's expenditure was only $650 million or 8 per cent of total industrial expenditure."

Australian industry in general has also become more efficient in its use of water, producing more economic output per gigalitre of water consumption.

"In 2014-15 Australian industry used 15,552 gigalitres of water to produce $1,513 billion worth of gross value added, or $97 million per gigalitre of water which was an increase of 10 per cent," said Ms Binns.

Further details can be found in the Water Account, Australia, 2014-15 (cat. no. 4610.0) available as a free download from the ABS website: http://www.abs.gov.au.

Media notes:
  • A gigalitre is equal to one billion litres of water. Sydney Harbour holds around 500 gigalitres.
  • When reporting ABS data, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or ABS) must be attributed as the source.
  • For media requests and interviews, contact the ABS Communications Section on 1300 175 070 (8.30am - 5pm Mon-Fri).
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