1370.0 - Measures of Australia's Progress, 2010  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/09/2010   
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Water (inland)

Agricultural water use in Australia(a)
Graph Image for Agricultural water use in Australia(a)

Footnote(s): (a) Year ending 30 June.

Source(s): ABS Water Use on Australian Farms, 2004-05 to 2008-09 (cat. no. 4618.0)


Agriculture is a major user of water in Australia, accounting for almost two-thirds (65%) of the total water use in Australia in 2004-05.

During 2008-09, about 7,300 GL of water was used on farms, a decline of 38% from 2005-06 (11,689 GL), and a slight increase on 2007-08 (6,989 GL).

Changes in the type of crop irrigated can impact on the total volume of water used. There has been a large fall in the number of rice and cotton crops planted, due to water shortages in recent years, as they are the most water intensive crops to grow (ABS 2006-2010). This has led to a large fall in the volume of water used to irrigate these two crops. In 2004-05, rice and cotton growing consumed 619 GL and 1,819 GL of water respectively, but these fell dramatically to 101 GL (an 84% decrease) and 880 GL (a 52% decrease) in 2008-09.

Since 2005-06, there has been a decrease in the volume of water used for agriculture due to the continuing unavailability of water following the drought. Although this decrease in water use is seen as a positive sign, agricultural water consumption is very much influenced by climatic conditions, particularly rainfall, and this must be taken into account when assessing changes in water use. When in drought, there is little water available for use. When there is plenty of rain, there is no need to irrigate as much. Both situations can lead to reduced consumption of water for agricultural purposes.


  • Inland waters glossary
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