4613.0 - Australia's Environment: Issues and Trends, 2007  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 10/12/2007   
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December 10, 2007
Embargoed 11.30 am (AEDT)
Environment snapshot: Australians confront big dry

Despite Australia having the highest per person water storage capacity in the world, the big dry has seen water consumption fall, according to the latest national snapshot of environmental issues and trends released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today.

As many Australians confronted the recent drought conditions, total water consumption was down 14% in 2004-05 from 2000-01, even though the country has the highest per capita water storage capacity in the world at more than 4 million litres per person.

Agricultural water use accounts for about two-thirds of total water consumption, and was down nearly one-fifth (19%) in 2004-05 compared with 2000-01. The drought conditions affecting eastern Australia in 2004-05 were especially evident in New South Wales and Queensland where nearly three-quarters (73%) of farmers reported surface water availability as a major issue.

The publication Australia's Environment: Issues and Trends 2007 presents a range of statistics from both ABS and other sources, allowing readers to form their own conclusions about how the environment is faring.

A feature article explores the implications of water scarcity, such as degradation of the country's rivers and wetlands, desalination and water trading. For example, more than 95% of the river length assessed in the Murray-Darling Basin had an environmental condition that was degraded.

Other environment snippets from the publication include:
    • Black and brown coal accounted for 41.6% of energy consumption in 2005-06, while renewable energy sources such as wind, hydroelectricity and solar energy represented about 5%.
    • In the nine years to 2005-06, hydroelectricity output fell by nearly 7%.
    • Although Australia's greenhouse gas emissions in 2005 were 2.2% more than the 1990 base year level, emissions per person have reduced over the period 1990 to 2005 by 14%.
    • Farmers reported spending more than $3.3 billion on Natural Resource Management (NRM) in 2004-05, one-third of which was spent on weeds management.
    • More than one-fifth (20.6%) of all households reported that their dwelling had a rainwater tank in 2007.
Further details can be found in Australia's Environment: Issues and Trends 2007 (cat. no. 4613.0).