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1370.0 - Measures of Australia's Progress, 2010  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/09/2010   
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Water (inland)

Total storage capacity of large dams
Graph Image for Total storage capacity of large dams

Source(s): ABS data available on request, Water Account Australia, 2004-05

Large dam storage levels(a)
Graph Image for Large dam storage levels(a)

Footnote(s): (a) At June.

Source(s): ABS data available on request, Water Account Australia, 2004-05


Australia is the driest inhabited continent and has the highest per capita surface water storage capacity of any country in the world. The large number and size of water storages is a function of both Australia's aridity and its highly variable rainfall.

At the start of the 20th century, the combined storage capacity of all large dams was 240 GL. This grew to 7,200 GL by 1950 and 84,800 GL by 2005. Australia has over 500 large dams, with many thousands of additional farm dams throughout the nation. Australia has a high water storage capacity per person, which is needed to sustain agricultural production and water supplies for human use during long dry periods. Drought conditions are reflected in an 18% fall in the water stored in large dams between 2002 and 2005, when levels fell from 49,235 GL to 40,407 GL.


  • Inland waters glossary
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