4610.0 - Water Account, Australia, 2009-10 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/11/2011   
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This publication presents information on the supply and use of water in the Australian economy in 2009–10 in both physical (i.e. ML) and monetary terms. The previous release of these data were for the 2008–09 reference year and numerous comparisons between 2008–09 and 2009–10 are made within this publication.

The focus of the Water Account Australia (WAA) is on the interactions between users within the economy and the environment. The economy is the system which abstracts water for consumption and production activities. The infrastructure to mobilise, store, treat, distribute and return water back to the environment forms part of the economy.

Water accounts can be prepared for any geographical boundary, whether it be administrative (e.g. National, States and Territories) or hydrological (e.g. river basins and water catchments).

The WAA uses the System of Environmental-Economic Accounts for Water (SEEA–Water) as the underlying conceptual framework. The SEEA–Water was adopted as an interim international statistical standard in 2007.

The SEEA–Water describes a series of tables and accounts covering the:
  • physical supply and use of water
  • monetary supply and use of water
  • emission accounts (the pollution added to water)
  • hybrid accounts (which combine physical and monetary supply and use with data from the national accounts)
  • physical asset accounts
  • water quality


Water supply and use in the Australian economy needs to be considered in the context of Australia's climate. Mean annual rainfall in Australia varies substantially across the continent and between regions. Large areas of Australia have a mean annual rainfall of 600-1500 mm, an amount comparable with most of Europe and North America. However, a key feature of Australia's climate is not the amount of rainfall but the variability in rainfall from year-to-year and season-to-season. Annual rainfall variability is greater for Australia than any other continental region. Any assessment of water supply and use over time must take this variability into account, including comparisons between the Water Accounts for 2008–09 and 2009–10.

Australian annual mean rainfall was 503 mm in 2009–10, a 4% decrease from the 522 mm reported in 2008–09. Although annual mean rainfall was similar during the two reference periods, there were large differences in the geographical distribution of rainfall. Victoria received, on average, 682 mm in 2009–10 compared to 498 mm in 2008–09, an increase of 37%. Western Australia also recorded a dramatic change in rainfall, with rainfall decreasing by 26% from 381 mm in 2008–09 to 281 mm in 2009–10. The section on Climate conditions provides additional information on the climatic conditions in 2008–09 and 2009–10.


This edition of the Water Account Australia consists of six Sections, a feature article, an Appendix, Explanatory notes, Glossary and a set of data cubes. Each section begins with an introduction and contains commentary to highlight key data and assist with interpretation of tables, which are interspersed within the section commentary.

The Physical water supply and use section presents commentary and summary graphs on the supply and use (or flow) of water in the Australian economy for 2009–10 only. The complete Physical supply and use tables for Australia and the States and Territories can be found in the data cubes. Volumes of water supplied, used and discharged are presented by industry in these tables. Water use is split by self-extracted, distributed, reuse and in-stream water.

The Monetary water supply and use section combines monetary information based on the Australian National Accounts and water price information, with the physical water flow information presented within the Physical water supply and use section.

The Water supply, sewerage and drainage and Agriculture sections are specific to these industries and take a more detailed look at the supply and use of water in the Australian economy and include a range of additional information.

The feature article, Australian Government Water Accounting, describes the differing but complementary purposes of the water accounts produced by the Bureau of Meteorology and the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Note that some of the tables within the sections on Monetary water supply and use and Water supply, sewerage and drainage only include data for the 2009–10 reference year. However, the corresponding commentary sometimes compares movements in the estimates between 2008–09 and 2009–10. Where these comparisons are made without corresponding tabular data, the 2008–09 data referred to are those published in the 2008–09 WAA.


For further information about these and related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.

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