|Page tools: Print Page Print All|
Water asset accounts record the stocks of water resources, primarily surface water and groundwater, and changes in the stocks from flows such as abstraction, precipitation and evaporation. The asset account for water resources is designed to record the opening and closing stocks of assets and changes in stocks over an accounting period (a shell table is presented in Table 19 in the Downloads tab). Opening and closing stocks are challenging to measure as the scope of the asset account for water resources is limited to inland water resources – artificial reservoirs, lakes, rivers, ground water and soil water. Much of the data required to populate the asset account for water resources is unavailable at the national level.
POLICY RELEVANCE AND USE
The National Water Initiative, developed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), provides a blueprint for Australia’s reform commitment to enhanced sustainability, efficiency and productivity in the management and use of its water resources. Water policy and its implementation is carried out across national and state and territory levels, with the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources taking an overarching responsibility for policy and management. Key policy concerns relate to maximising agricultural producers' returns on water use, effective management of the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB), and management of environmental water flows for downstream ecological health. The Australian government has also committed to significant expenditures on water infrastructure.
Environmental-economic accounts are well placed to inform Australian water policy and management decisions on water use and water infrastructure investment. These accounts detail the users and uses of water, and associated transactions. The efficiency of agricultural water use can be assessed through production volumes achieved per ML of water used, and through dedicated valuation of irrigated agricultural outputs. Valuation of water infrastructure assets supports assessment of return on investment.
All agricultural, forestry and fisheries activity depends on the quantity and quality of the water. There is competition for water use, for example for energy, manufacturing, agriculture and human consumption. In view of increasing pressures on water availability in many areas, a coherent set of data on water resources and links to economic and human activities should be a key aim.
Table 18 in the Downloads tab presents physical flow accounts (supply and use tables) for water for each year from 2010-11 to 2015-16, at a national level. These tables detail the supply and use of water within the entire economy and between the environment and the economy. Detailed industry splits for Agriculture are presented for the 2015-16 reference period. Data was sourced from Water Account, Australia, 2015-16 (cat. no. 4610.0).
The key findings include:
MEASUREMENT GAPS AND OPPORTUNITIES
Physical Flow Account
Table 18 in the Downloads tab presents experimental 2010-11 to 2015-16 physical flow accounts (supply and use tables) for water, for the economy at the national level, with a focus on the agriculture, forestry and fishing industries. Data was obtained from the ABS Water Account, Australia (cat. no. 4610.0).
The physical flow accounts presented are incomplete. There is scope to further improve the tables presented in Table 18, as some of these data items have been produced via modelling and other methods (both internally by the ABS and by other organisations).There is expected to be further work undertaken to explore expanding the SEEA AFF water tables. Some of the current data gaps include:
The ABS has collected and published a range of different water consumption/use data. The primary publications that have been referenced to complete the physical flow account tables are the Water Account, Australia (cat. no. 4610.0) and Water Use on Australian Farms (cat. no. 4618.0). Both of these publications have a relatively long history and data time series. Data from the Water Account is presented here for major water-using industries (Agriculture and Water supply, sewerage and drainage services) and then further to the sub-industry level (for the Agriculture industry in 2015-16). However, from an agricultural viewpoint, data for individual commodity or crop types such as wheat or maize was not presented, as these do not align with the ANZSIC industry classification. Further disaggregation of the water data to individual crop types would enable specific comparisons that are not currently possible with the published data.
The physical asset account tables presented in this publication (Table 19 in the Downloads tab) are completely absent of data at this stage. Opening and closing stocks are challenging to measure as the scope of the asset account for water resources is limited to inland water resources – artificial reservoirs, lakes, rivers, ground water and soil water. Much of the data required to populate the asset account for water resources is unavailable at the national level - for example, stocks of water held in rivers and streams, groundwater stocks and soil water stocks. Therefore, shell tables only are presented in this publication. A completed table would provide useful information to assist with understanding the availability of water and issues such as water stress and availability.
Opportunities may exist to investigate alternative sources of data that could assist in completing these tables in the future. The SEEA Central Framework suggests that where opening and closing stocks cannot be measured reliably, the measurement of the net change in the stock of water over an accounting period may be derived, provided each component series can be measured directly. The net change in stock can be interpreted as a measure of the water yield. Recent work completed by the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM), complemented by some modelling, indicate that completing these tables is possible in the future.
Of significant interest is the BoM's 2016 National Water Account reports for the period 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016 for:
Within each of these reports is a section dedicated to water assets, which loosely aligns with the proposed format in the SEEA AFF framework. Additional sections also consider entitlements, rainfall, stream flow, storage levels, trade, usage and outlook, making this a valuable source of data. Furthermore, the BoM have been producing these accounts since 2010, with most of the regions listed above included in all of these accounts, creating a credible time series for these areas. Partnerships between the ABS and the BoM for data sharing already exist; further collaboration with a SEEA AFF focus could enable a further data expansion of these SEEA AFF water tables.
These documents will be presented in a new window.