4602.0.55.003 - Environmental Issues: Water use and Conservation, Mar 2010 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 19/11/2010  First Issue
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1 The statistics in this publication were compiled from data collected in the Water Use and Conservation Survey conducted throughout Australia in March 2010 as a supplement to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS). It is a continuation of a series of surveys on this topic conducted since March 1994. The previous Water Use and Conservation survey was conducted in March 2007.

2 The publication Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) contains information about the LFS survey design, scope, coverage and population benchmarks. This information also applies to supplementary surveys. The publication also contains definitions of demographic and labour force characteristics, and information about telephone interviewing.


3 The scope of the Water Use and Conservation survey was households in urban, rural and very remote areas in all states and territories of Australia. This is the first time, the survey has included households residing in very remote parts of Australia, namely in Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. The inclusion has minimal impact on Australian level estimates, however it could improve the Northern Territory estimates because previously 20% of Northern Territory households had been excluded.

4 The Water Use and Conservation survey excludes households in special dwellings (such as hotels, university residences, boarding schools, hospitals, and prisons).


5 The survey's coverage was households in urban, rural and very remote areas in all states and territories of Australia, excluding households in Indigenous Communities.


6 The Monthly Population Survey is based on a multi-stage area of sample of private dwellings (houses, flats, etc.) and a list sample of non-private dwellings (hotels, motels, etc.). The sample for a monthly population survey is approximately 32,000 dwellings but only half of these were included in the Water Use and Conservation survey. After taking into account sample loss, the response rate for the survey was 93%. In total, information was collected from 12,882 fully responding households for the March 2010 survey.

7 Information was collected through interviews conducted over a two-week period during March 2010. Information was collected from any responsible adult in the household aged 18 years and over who was asked to respond on behalf of the household.


8 Estimates in this publication are subject to sampling and non-sampling errors:

  • Sampling error is the difference between the published estimate and the value that would have been produced if all dwellings had been included in the survey. For further information refer to the Technical note.
  • Non-sampling error may occur in any collection whether it is based on a sample or a full count such as a census. Sources of non-sampling error include non-response, errors in reporting by respondents or recording answers by interviewers, and errors in coding and processing data. Every effort is made to reduce the non-sampling error by careful design and testing of the questionnaire, training of interviewers, extensive editing and quality control procedures at all stages of data processing and follow up of respondents.


9 Prior to 2008, the annual publication Environmental Issues: People's Views and Practices (cat. no. 4602.0) focussed on one of three rotating topics each year: Energy Use and Conservation, Waste Management and Transport Use and Water Use and Conservation.

10 Now, the three topics under Environmental Issues: People's Views and Practices (cat. no. 4602.0) are separate publications with different catalogue numbers. The 2010 publication is called 'Environmental Issues: Water Use and Conservation' (cat.no 4602.0.55.003). The information contained in this publication is comparable with some of the data collected in 1994, 1998, 2001, 2004, 2007.

11 Grey water as a household source of water was previously collected and published in Environmental Issues: People's Views and Practices, 2007 (cat. no. 4602.0). Care should be taken when comparing 2007 and 2010 estimates because of a change in the 2010 question methodology. The difference between the estimates can be partly attributed to both real world factors and the change in question methodology but the extent of the change in methodology cannot be quantified. The questions on main source of water for gardening were not changed in 2010 and there was a reduction in responses to the grey water question. The estimates for main source of water for gardening can be viewed in Table 10 and may provide a guide to the extent of the impact attributable to real world factors.

12 The category 'Don't water/rely on rainfall only' is comprised of two populations. The first population includes households that responded 'Don't water' when asked for their main source of water for gardening. Subsequently, this population was not asked about the 'methods used to water the garden'. The second population includes households who responded 'Don't water/rely on rainfall only' when asked about the methods used to water the garden. The second group may also specify other methods to water the garden.

13 The ABS seeks to maximise consistency and comparability of estimates over time by minimising changes to its surveys. Sound survey practice however, requires ongoing review to maintain the integrity of the data. A few changes were made to the survey between 2007 and 2010. Significant changes, are outlined below.
  • Three new data items were collected in the 2010 survey
      Type of washing machine (top loading, front loading, combination washer, or other).
      Whether household received a government rebate or incentive for a water saving products.
      Type of water saving product that received a government rebate or incentive.
  • One data item was removed from the from the 2010 survey
      Whether the swimming pool is filtered or treated.
  • The methodology for collecting grey water as sources of household water was changed in the 2010 survey
      The 2007 survey included a grey water question that prompted for, and gave, an example of grey water use. The 2010 survey removed this question and included grey water as a response category to the main question on what sources of water a household used.


14 ABS surveys draw extensively on information provided by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated and without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.


15 The ABS plans to conduct this survey again in March 2013.


16 Users may also wish to refer to the following ABS publications:
  • Environmental Issues: People's Views and Practices (cat. no. 4602.0) - 1992 to 2007 issues
  • Environmental Issues: Waste Management and Transport Use, March 2009 (cat. no. 4602.0.55.002)
  • Environmental Issues: Energy Use and Conservation, March 2008 (cat. no. 4602.0.55.001)
  • Household Water, Energy Use and Conservation, Victoria, October 2009, (cat. no. 4602.2)
  • Queensland Water and Energy Use and Conservation, October 2009 (cat. no. 4602.3)
  • Environmental Views and Behaviour, 2007-08 (cat.no. 4626.0.55.001)
  • Australia's Environment Issues and Trends, January 2010 (cat.no. 4613.0)
  • Water Account Australia (cat. no. 4610.0)
  • Measures of Australia's Progress, 2010 (cat. no. 1370.0)


17 Further key references on water use and conservation can be found through the following web sites:
      Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (http://www.environment.gov.au)
      Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (http://www.climatechange.gov.au)
      Current publications and other products released by the ABS are available on the ABS website. The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the website which details products to be released in the week ahead.


18 All tables in this publication are also available in a Data Cube (spreadsheet format). Additional Water Use and Conservation tables are also available in a Data Cube. For a complete list of tables, please refer to the contents page of the 'Additional Tables' Data Cube.


19 In addition to the statistics provided in this publication and the Data Cubes, the ABS may have other relevant data available on request. Subject to confidentiality and sampling variability constraints, additional tabulations may be produced from the survey. All inquiries should be made to the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.