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)

Water consumption(a)
Graph Image for Water consumption(a)

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

Source(s): ABS Water Account, Australia, 1993-94 to 1996-97, 2000-01, 2004-05 (cat. no. 4610.0)


Total water use is an important indicator of the extent to which human activity draws upon Australia's finite water resources. It is important to quantify water use because it gives a measure of the amount of water that society uses, the pressures placed on water systems by society, and the impacts of water management decisions on society.

Between 2000-01 and 2004-05, total water consumption decreased by 14%. Australian agriculture, other industries and households consumed 18,800 GL of water in 2004-05 compared to 21,700 GL in 2000-01. During 2004-05, a further 60,400 GL was extracted from the environment for use instream (mostly for hydroelectricity generation) before being returned to waterways.

Agriculture was the largest consumer of water in 2004-05, accounting for 65% (12,200 GL) of total water use in Australia (a decrease from 15,000 GL in 2000-01). Households were the next largest consumers of water, consuming 11% (2,100 GL) of total water use (down from 2,300 GL in 2000-01). The water supply, sewerage and drainage services industry was also a significant consumer of water, accounting for 2,100 GL (or 11%) of water consumption (mostly due to losses in distribution), followed by manufacturing with 600 GL (or 3%).

As agriculture comprises almost two-thirds of water use, it is the main driver for changes in total consumption, and agricultural water use has continued to be impacted by reduced water availability due to the drought. The recent drought has also seen many parts of Australia introduce water restrictions to help manage the use of water. Water restrictions varied from voluntary reductions of water to mandatory restrictions. In September 2010, Melbourne, Adelaide and Canberra still had staged water restrictions, while Sydney, Brisbane and Perth were encouraging permanent water conservation measures (without a staged restriction).

Extreme care should be taken when making comparisons between 2000-01 and 2004-05 data and data from the years 1993-94 to 1996-97. There have been a number of improvements and differences in climate, data sources, data availability and data quality over time, so caution should be used when looking at the timeseries.


  • Inland waters glossary
  • Inland waters references

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