Water in Canberra cleaner, and there’s more of it


In June 2017 the total volume of water resources in the Canberra region totalled 279,968 megalitres, equating to just over half of the water held in Sydney Harbour, according to new data issued by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and Bureau of Meteorology (BoM). This was a 27 per cent increase from 2013 when it was 220,546 megalitres.

The new findings also showed that water quality for all the lakes and ponds in the ACT region was rated as “good”.

Assistant Director of ABS Centre of Environmental and Satellite Accounts Steven May said: “Canberra’s waterways are such an iconic part of the nation’s capital and these new accounts provide a “one-stop shop” for water information in the region.

Households in the Canberra region spent more than twice as much on potable water as industry in 2016-17.

“Households spent $124 million on potable water in 2016-17, while industry spent $52 million.

“More water left the Canberra region than entered it, with 262,309 megalitres flowing into the Canberra region via the Murrumbidgee River in 2016-17, and 818,608 megalitres flowing out - that’s a difference of 556,300 megalitres and means Canberra’s net water consumption is relatively small. Most water used by households and industry in the region is returned to the environment as treated wastewater discharge,” Mr May said.

The collaboration between the ABS and BoM – the two organisations’ first partnership on water statistics - builds on previous work by the ACT Office of the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment and studied data from 2013 to 2017.

The findings also showed that the major reservoirs such as Bendora, Corin, Cotter and Googong dams, accounted for 86 per cent of the 279,002 megalitres, with the remainder held in lakes (14 per cent) and rivers (0.3 per cent).

Households and industry used 49,958 megalitres of water taken from Canberra's water stocks, with 41,050 megalitres of water returned to the environment in the form of treated wastewater flows to the Molonglo River.

In 2016-17 the water quality recorded for all the lakes and ponds in the Canberra region was rated as “good”. Meanwhile, the Cotter River recorded higher water quality when compared to the Murrumbidgee River and the Molonglo River, though both these rivers recorded improved water quality in 2016-17 compared to 2013-14.

More information is available in Integrated Water Accounts for the Canberra region (cat. no. 4610.0.55.010) available as a free download from the ABS website: http://www.abs.gov.au. This information will also be available on the Bureau of Meteorology website.

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