4610.0 - Water Account, Australia, 2016-17 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 12/02/2019   
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The statistics presented in this release were derived using a combination of data collected directly by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) under the authority of the Census and Statistics Act 1905 and data coordinated by the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM), Department of Primary Industries (formally known as NSW Office of Water) and Queensland Water Directorate (QWD).

For information on the institutional environment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.


Water Account, Australia (WAA) (cat. no. 4610.0) is one of the accounts produced by the ABS as part of an environmental accounting system. It consists of supply and use tables (collectively referred to as flow tables) for both physical and monetary volumes. The aim of WAA is to integrate data from different sources into a consolidated information set making it possible to link physical data on water to economic data, such as that in Australia's National Accounts. Environmental accounts can facilitate analyses of a range of issues including a broader assessment of the consequences of economic growth and implications of environmental policy measures across sectors (for example, regulation, charges and incentives).

WAA was developed using the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) and the SEEA-Water. SEEA was first published by the United Nations (UN) in 1993 and was elevated to an international standard in 2012. SEEA is a supplementary account to the System of National Accounts 2008 (SNA). Environmental accounts extend the boundaries of the SNA framework to include those environmental resources which occur outside the economic production and asset boundaries measured by the SNA.

WAA differs from the recommendations in the SEEA–Water in certain cases where the data is not available to meet these requirements, or it is not considered practical to adhere to the standards.


Estimates for WAA are compiled based on the financial year time frame. The data are sourced from several different collections and administrative sources of data, and are generally published within 15-20 months of the end of the reference period.


Data for Water Account, Australia were obtained from several different surveys with varying response rates, sample sizes and imputation methods. The resultant value estimates have been checked against earlier years and relevant other sources, including contact with data providers, to ensure the accuracy of the estimates produced.

Water use data at the ANZSIC subdivision level will not be as accurate as the aggregate level due to the small sample sizes at these levels.


There have been a number of changes in the data used to compile WAA since 2008-09. Increased cooperation and assistance from government organisations and water providers have led to some improvements in the quality of water supply data. Further, the number of ABS surveys feeding into WAA varies from year-to-year, and water use estimates for some industries have been modelled for most years.

While every care has been taken to ensure consistency between 2008-09 and later reference years, the changes between the reference periods need to be interpreted with some caution owing to differences in climate and data sources. Extreme care should be taken when making comparisons to the data included in the editions of WAA prior to 2008-09 as the 2006 Australian New Zealand Standard Industry Classification (ANZSIC), was introduced for the 2008–09 edition of the Water Account.


When available, time series data for some estimates from previous releases, are presented in the publication WAA.

As definitions relating to the supply and use of water are often not consistent between jurisdictions, the ABS has included a glossary of terms to aid understanding. Detailed explanatory notes are provided with each publication to assist users in interpreting and understanding the concepts underlying the data.


Data cubes, analysis and commentary from WAA are available on the ABS website <https://www.abs.gov.au>.

If the information you require is not available as a standard product or service, the ABS Consultancy Services can assist with customised services to suit your requirements. Inquiries should be made to the ABS Information Centre on 1300 135 070.