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)


Low rainfall over time and increased evaporation reduce run-off and stream flow. These events impact on inland waterways and wetlands in many ways, including reduced river flows, changes in species composition and community structure, reduced area for waterbird breeding, sea level rise resulting in saltwater intrusion to the freshwater bodies, and changes in water quality. In the interest of maintaining the health of Australia's rivers, a number of states and territories are allocating and providing water to the environment, generally known as 'environmental flows'. Without sufficient flows, water-dependent ecosystems may lose their capacity to provide for environmental and public benefit outcomes. Such losses can be difficult and costly, both to the environment and to the economy.

There are many large dams in Australia to provide a reliable water resource for irrigated agricultural needs, urban water needs and hydro-electric power generation. In addition to Australia's large dams there are also many thousands of farm dams throughout Australia. Australia's high per capita storage capacity is needed to sustain agricultural production and water supplies for human use during long dry periods such as a drought.

In countries such as Australia, the development of water saving devices has brought about improvements in water conservation and reduced water use. In recent years, Australia has seen an increased use of grey water and rainwater tanks, and the inclusion of dual flush toilets and water saving shower heads in more households. These advances have improved Australia's water efficiency.

The following sections look at rainfall patterns (particularly for the Murray-Darling basin), water storage and changes in household water conservation practices.


  • Inland waters glossary
  • Inland waters references

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