4610.0 - Water Account, Australia, 2008-09  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/11/2010   
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The Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) is the standard classification used in Australia and New Zealand for the collection, compilation, and publication of statistics by industry.


A geologic formation which is capable of holding water and through which water can percolate. Aquifers are capable of yielding quantities of groundwater for economic activities.

Australian Water Resources 2005 (AWR 2005)

Australian Water Resources 2005 is the baseline assessment of water resources for the National Water Initiative.

Bulk water

Water supplied by a water provider to another water provider.

Bulk entitlement

A type of water access entitlement in Victoria, issued to rural and regional water authorities, who then distribute the water to their rural and urban customers, to some electricity generating companies and to the State Minister for Environment.


The area of land determined by topographic features, within which rainfall will contribute to run-off at a particular point. The catchment for a major river and its tributaries is usually referred to as a River basin.

Chain Volume Measures

Annually-reweighted chain Laspeyres volume indexes referenced to the current price values in a chosen reference year (i.e. the year when the quarterly chain volume measures sum to the current price annual values). Chain Laspeyres volume measures are compiled by linking together (compounding) movements in volumes, calculated using the average prices of the previous financial year, and applying the compounded movements to the current price estimates of the reference year.

Consumptive use

The use of water for private benefit consumptive purposes including irrigation, industry, urban and stock and domestic use (NWI definition). This is different to the definition of water consumption used in this publication.

Cooling water

Water used for cooling purposes (e.g., for electricity generation).

Current Prices

Estimates are valued at the prices of the period to which the observation relates. For example, estimates for 2004-05 are valued using 2004-05 prices. This contrasts to chain volume measures where the prices used in valuation refer to the prices of the previous year.


A process where salt is removed from water with a high salt content (usually seawater but sometimes other brackish water) to make it suitable for domestic or industrial use.


The transfer of water or waste water (of any treatment level) from the control of a water supplier or user to the environment.

Distributed water

Distributed water is water supplied to a user including through a natural (e.g. river) or non-natural network (piped or open channel), and where an economic transaction has occurred for the exchange of this water. The majority of distributed water is supplied by the WATER SUPPLY, SEWERAGE AND DRAINAGE SERVICES industry (ANZSIC Division 28). The water supply component consists of units mainly engaged in storage, purification or distribution of water by pipeline or carrier. It also includes the operation of irrigation systems that supply water to a farm and the supply of steam and hot water. Distributed water can include potable, mains and raw water but does not include reuse or bulk water.

Domestic or residential water supply

Water supplied primarily to domestic or residential customers. In rural areas this includes water supplied for stock and domestic uses.

Drainage services

The collection of water through a regional network of surface and/or subsurface drains. This water may be reused or discharged to the environment.

Drainage water

Excess surface or subsurface water collected and conveyed from irrigated lands. It may be captured for reuse or conveyed for downstream demands.

Effluent discharge

The discharge of used water by an organisation into the environment, with its associated quality characteristics, including, for example, the temperature of the discharge.

Environmental allocation

An amount of water allocated for environmental purposes and released to meet the environmental needs of a given area, e.g. a forest.

Environmental flow

This is a general term that can have a variety of meanings, however the 2000-01, 2004-05 and 2008-09 editions of Water Account Australia and the ABS 2004-05 Water Supply Survey defined environmental flows to be: water delivered (released) for the purpose of the environment in accordance with a specific plan prepared in conjunction with and/or approved by the appropriate environmental (resource) regulator. Note that environmental flows can be either Planned (rules-based) or Held (entitlement-based) - see Explanatory Notes for more details.


Process of moisture loss from the Earth's land surface to the atmosphere by evaporation and plant transpiration.


One thousand million litres.

Gross State Products (GSP)

GSP is defined equivalently to gross domestic product. It is the total market value of goods and services produced in a state within a given period after deducting the cost of goods and services used up in the process of production but before deducting allowances for the consumption of fixed capital.

Gross Value

Refers to the gross value of commodities produced. It is the value placed on recorded production at the wholesale prices realised in the market place.

Gross value of irrigated agricultural production (GVIAP)

Refers to the gross value of agricultural commodities that are produced with the assistance of irrigation.


Water occurring below the ground's surface. Note that in the Physical Supply and Use Tables presented in Chapter 2 all ground water is included in self-extracted water.

Industry Gross Value Added (IGVA)

The value of an industry's output at basic prices, minus the value of goods and services consumed as inputs during the process of production. Basic prices valuation of output removes the distortion caused by variations in commodity taxes and subsidies across the output of individual industries.

In-stream use

The use of freshwater in situ (e.g. within a river or stream). Can include recreation, tourism, scientific and cultural uses, ecosystem maintenance, hydro-electricity and commercial activities, and dilution of waste. The volume of water required for most in-stream uses cannot be quantified, with the exception of hydro-electricity generation. In-stream use is usually a subset of Self-extracted use, however in some instances in-stream can be a subset of Distributed water, for example where an unplanned release of Distributed water is used to dilute polluted water to an acceptable concentration for release into the environment..

Inland surface water

All waters on the surface of the earth, excluding sea water. Includes lakes, rivers, dams, wetlands, snow and ice.


Water artificially applied to soils (i.e., does not include precipitation/rainfall).

Irrigation/Rural water provider

A water provider undertaking the supply of retail irrigation water in rural areas. Functions of irrigation/rural water providers include the delivery of water for the purpose of irrigation and the collection of drainage off agricultural land through surface or sub-surface drainage systems. In addition most supply water for stock and domestic purposes and either bulk or reticulated water to service rural towns. Delivery systems can range from channel/canal to pipes to carriers and natural streams/water courses.


One thousand litres.

Major urban water provider (Metropolitan)

An urban water provider servicing >50,000 water or sewerage connections. A connection corresponds to a water meter or sewerage connection regardless of the type of customer.


One million litres.

Minor urban water provider

An urban water provider servicing <10,000 water or sewerage connections. A connection corresponds to a water meter or sewerage connection regardless of the type of customer.

National Water Initiative (NWI)

An intergovernmental agreement on water reform created in June 2004.

Net water supply

The quantity of water supplied to customers of the water provider. This comprises the distributed water supply less: losses, water provided for environmental benefits, and, water used directly by the industry.

Non-major urban water provider

An urban water provider servicing between 10,000 and 50,000 water or sewerage connections. A connection corresponds to a water meter or sewerage connection regardless of the type of customer.

Other industries

In the Physical Supply and Use Tables presented in Chapter 2, OTHER industries refers to the following list of industries, according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC):

  • Construction
  • Wholesale Trade
  • Retail Trade
  • Accommodation and Food services
  • Transport, Postal and Warehousing
  • Information Media and Telecommunications
  • financial and Insurance Services
  • Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services
  • Professional, Scientific and Technical Services
  • Administrative and Support Services
  • Public Administration and Safety
  • Education and Training
  • Health Care and Social Assistance
  • Arts and Recreation Services
  • Other services

Other water provider

An organisation that supplies water but whose main activity is in an industry other than the Water Supply, Sewerage and Drainage services industry (eg. Mining and Manufacturing).

Potable water

Treated water that is suitable for human consumption, e.g. drinking water.

Process water

Water used in the production of goods or the provision of services. For example, water use in the production of food, cleaning in industrial production, or water used in laundry facilities.

Raw water

Water extracted from the environment that has not been treated.

Recycled water

Recycled water is any water that is reused by the same organisation on-site after it has been used once, or water that would normally go down the drain but is used for another purpose.

Regulated discharge

Water discharged to the environment after use where that discharge does not match the natural flow regime of the receiving water body. For example, wastewater discharged into a river, ocean or land outfall by a sewerage service provider is considered a regulated discharge. Water discharged from a household is not considered to be a regulated discharge because it is usually discharged into a sewerage system, rather than directly to the environment.

Residential connections

Number of residential connections was collected in the National Performance Report (Water Services Association of Australia and the National Water Commission), and in the Water Supply and Sewerage Services Survey by the ABS. In both cases, a residential connection is a residential unit, or dwelling, usually separately metered.

Reuse water

Drainage, waste or storm water that has been used again without first being discharged to the environment. It may have been treated to some extent. It excludes "on-site" recycling.

River basin

The 245 River basins in Australia are defined by the area drained by a stream and its tributaries where surface run-off collects. In an area of uncoordinated drainage, drainage patterns define a basin. A map of Australian River basins is included in Appendix 3 (Geoscience Australia 2004)


The part of precipitation in a given area and period of time that appears as stream flow.


SEEA is the System for Integrated Environmental and Economic Accounting. It is a framework used to develop environmental accounts by integrating environmental information into an accounting framework. The SEEA publication provides the conceptual basis for developing a framework to describe the interrelationship between the natural environment and the economy.


The International System for Environmental-Economic Accounting for Water. It is an elaboration of the SEEA and provides a conceptual framework for organising hydrological and economic information in a coherent and consistent framework. It was adopted as an interim international statistical standard by the United Nations in 2007.

Self extracted water

Water extracted directly from the environment for use (including rivers, lakes, groundwater and other bodies). Some of this water may be then distributed via water providers to others. Excludes water supplied by water suppliers via regulated systems.


Infrastructure used to remove sewage (waste water).

Storm water

Rainfall that is collected after it has run off urban surfaces.

Supply Use Framework

Physical supply and use tables (Chapter 2) provide information on the volumes of water abstracted, supplied within the economy and discharged back into the environment by economic activity and households

Surface water

Water flowing or held in streams, rivers and other wetlands in the landscape.

System of National Accounts (SNA)

The System of National Accounts (SNA) is an international framework which can be used to develop a comprehensive, consistent and flexible set of macro-economic accounts.

Total water use

Total water use is equal to distributed water use plus self-extracted water use plus reuse water use.

Urban water provider

Includes major, non-major and minor urban water provider.

Waste water

Any water that has been used once and cannot be used again without treatment, for example untreated effluent, sewage water and trade waste.

Water consumption

Water consumption is equal to distributed water use plus self-extracted water use plus reuse water use minus in-stream water use minus distributed water supplied to other users minus water supplied to the environment as 'environmental flows'. Note that in the Physical Supply and Use Tables presented in Chapter 2, volumes of water supplied to the environment as 'environmental flows' are included on the supply side of the tables in the Distributed column and on the use side of the tables in the Environment row in both the Distributed and Reuse columns.

Water losses

Water that enters the water distribution system of a water provider that does not reach the end users/customers. Water losses can be attributed to seepage, leakage, evaporation(excluding evaporation from water storages), meter inaccuracies and theft.

Water provider

A business or organisation that provides a reticulated water supply, irrigation water, reuse/recycle water and/or bulk water supply service. Water providers may be government or private and often operate water storage, purification and supply services.They may also provide sewerage or drainage services.

Water stocks

Surface and groundwater resources available in Australia for economic and environmental use.

Water system

A system that is hydrologically connected and described at the level desired for management purposes (eg sub-catchment, catchment, basin or drainage division and/or groundwater management unit, sub-aquifer, aquifer, groundwater basin).

Water treatment plant

An individual location receiving raw or partially treated water for treatment and ultimate delivery to customers. There may be more than one water treatment plant at an individual facility. Secondary or booster disinfection plants are not included, even where they have pH treatment. Water treatment plants that provide fluoridation only should be classified as disinfection only.