2017-18: Less rain, more water


A reduction in national rainfall levels in 2017-18 drove a 9 per cent increase in the use of distributed water compared to the previous year, according to data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Director of the ABS Centre for Environment and Satellite Accounts, Jonathon Khoo, said data from the latest edition of the annual Water Account, Australia showed an increased reliance on distributed water.

“Unsurprisingly, rainfall is an important factor in how water is used throughout the economy. In 2017-18 as rainfall decreased, Australia used 11,782 GL of distributed water, a 9 per cent increase year on year.”

“Agriculture was the largest contributor to this increase, using an additional 661 GL in 2017-18, up 10 per cent.”

Reduced rainfall also affected dam storage levels. Mr. Khoo highlighted the impact dam levels have on self-extracted water use by the Electricity and Gas Supply industry, driven by hydroelectricity generation.

“In 2017-18 a reduction in available dam storages coincided with a 9 per cent decrease of self-extracted water use by the Electricity and Gas Supply industry. As dam water acts as the fuel source for hydroelectricity generation this is an expected interaction.”

Distributed water use by households increased in 2017-18 by 4 per cent. The reduction in rainfall led to an increase in demand of water needed for household activities.

The 2017-18 Water Account features a number of improvements from previous editions. These improvements were implemented to further align the account with international standards, modernise and standardise the processing system, and adopt new data sources. While this resulted in a delay to this release, more timely accounts can be produced going forward due to these changes.

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

Media note

  • Distributed water refers to water supplied to a user where an economic transaction has occurred for the exchange of this water.
  • Self-extracted water refers to water extracted directly from the environment for use.
  • 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 Media Team at media@abs.gov.au.
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