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SOURCES OF WATER AND ITS USES
Australia’s climate is characterised by highly variable rainfall patterns between regions, seasons and years, including extended periods of drought. Since 2002, parts of Australia have been subject to mandatory water restrictions in response to drought conditions. Even with the recent easing of water restrictions, permanent water saving measures remain in place in parts of Australia to help reduce the demand for water and promote the efficient use of water.
It is important for governments, in particular, to identify and understand the patterns and sources of household water consumption in order to effectively manage water resources and plan for future years. The National Water Initiative (NWI), the Council of Australian Governments' (COAG) principal water policy agreement, is Australia's national plan for water reform. The NWI represents a shared approach to how Australian governments manage, measure, plan, price and trade water. A key objective of the NWI is to increase the efficiency of Australia's water use and manage urban water demands.
In March 2013, more than eight million Australian households (93%) used mains or town water as a source of water. Nearly all households in capital cities used mains or town water (99%) compared with 84% of households living outside the capital cities. (Table 1)
Just over 2.3 million households (26%) used a rainwater tank as a source of water in 2013. The proportion of households that used water from a rainwater tank has remained steady since 2010 (26%), while usage has increased from 19% in 2007. South Australia had the highest proportion of households that used water from a rainwater tank (46%), followed by Queensland (34%) and Victoria (29%). (Tables 1 and 2 and Graph 1)
Footnote(s): (a) Data not available for graph as relative standard error greater than 25%
It is more common for households in Adelaide or Brisbane to use water from a rainwater tank at home (34% and 31% respectively) compared with households living in other state capital cities, ranging from 23% of households in Melbourne to 7% of households in Perth. Rainwater tanks were a popular source of water for South Australian households outside of Adelaide (76%) and Victorian households outside of Melbourne (47%). Bores or wells were a common source of water for households residing in Perth (22%). (Table 1)
Nine out of ten households (91%) in capital cities reported mains or town water as their main source of water for drinking compared with seven out of ten households (69%) living outside capital cities. Water from a rainwater tank was a common source of water for drinking for those living outside capital cities (23%). (Table 3)
Of those households that used mains or town water as a source of water, 77% were satisfied with the quality of the water for drinking. Satisfaction levels were the highest in the Australian Capital Territory (95%), and lowest in South Australia (57%) and Western Australia (65%). For households in Western Australia, satisfaction levels decreased from 74% in 2010 to 65% in 2013. For households in the Northern Territory, satisfaction levels decreased from 90% in 2010 to 82% in 2013. Of those households that used mains or town water, 3% did not drink this type of water. (Tables 6 and 7 and Graph 2)
Footnote(s): (a) Households with mains or town water
Of the 7.3 million Australian households that had a garden, 51% used mains or town water as their main source of water for gardening. Queensland had the lowest proportion of households that used mains or town water as their main source of water for gardening (32%) compared with the other states and territories. A similar proportion of households in Queensland chose to rely on rainfall for gardening or not water (33%). The use of bores or wells for gardening was relatively uncommon across Australia (5%) other than in Western Australia, where one fifth of households (20%) used bores or wells as their main source of water for gardening. (Table 8 and Graph 3)
Footnote(s): (a) Not all data available for graph as relative standard error greater than 25%
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