4618.0 - Water Use on Australian Farms, 2006-07  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/08/2008   
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August 27, 2008
Embargoed: 11.30 am (AEST)
Irrigation water use down by over one-quarter

In 2006-07, irrigation water use decreased by 29% from the previous year to 7,636 gigalitres, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The largest decline in irrigation water use was for rice, with volumes down more than 81%, followed by cotton (50%) and pasture for grazing (30%).

The major use of irrigation water in 2006-07 was pasture for dairy cattle, which accounted for 15% (1,163 gigalitres) of all irrigation water use.

With a decline of over 42% since 2005/06, New South Wales reported the largest decrease in water for irrigation.

Water use for irrigation in Tasmania increased by 29%, and by 8% in South Australia, most of this increase being for pasture for grazing.

Other findings include:
  • Approximately 40% of farms and 41% of irrigating farms in Australia were located in the Murray-Darling Basin. Irrigation in the Murray-Darling Basin accounted for 58% of water used for irrigation nationally.
  • Irrigation water used in the Murray-Darling Basin decreased by 40% from 7,370 gigalitres in 2005-06 to 4,458 gigalitres in 2006-07. The major use of this water was for irrigation of pastures for grazing (1,093 gigalitres) and irrigation of cotton (819 gigalitres).
  • Government or private irrigation schemes supplied over 38% of all water used on farms, followed by groundwater and other surface water. The volume of groundwater used by farms increased by nearly 15%, while volumes from all other sources decreased.
  • Farmers purchased 655 gigalitres of extra water on a temporary basis at a cost of $122 million, and 74 gigalitres on a permanent basis at a cost of $93 million.
  • The value of irrigation equipment and infrastructure on farms at 30 June 2007 was $9.3 billion.

More details are available in Water use on Australian Farms 2006-07 (cat. no. 4618.0), available for free download from the ABS website <www.abs.gov.au>.