4618.0 - Water Use on Australian Farms, 2008-09 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 19/04/2010   
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April 19, 2010
Embargoed: 11.30 am (AEST)

Agricultural water use rises, but remains at low levels: ABS

Australia's agricultural water use in 2008-09 rose 4% to 7,286 gigalitres, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Although total agricultural water use increased over the past year, the two main irrigating states, Queensland and New South Wales, and Tasmania, reported increases with the remaining states and territories reporting decreases.

Since reaching a high of 11,700 gigalitres in 2005–06, total agricultural water use fell in all states except Tasmania, with the largest decreases recorded by New South Wales (down 56% on 2005–06 levels) and Victoria (down 49%).

Most of the water in 2008–09 (6,500 gigalitres or 89% of all water used) was used for irrigation by Australia's 40 thousand irrigating farms. Queensland remained the largest irrigating state, using 2,058 gigalitres of water for irrigation in 2008-09 and was closely followed by New South Wales which used 1,910 gigalitres.

The Murray–Darling Basin accounted for 38% of Australia's irrigating farms, 53% of all irrigated land and 54% of irrigation water applied in 2008–09. While the Murray–Darling Basin made up more than half (3,492 gigalitres) of Australia's total irrigation in 2008–09, this was down considerably from just three years earlier when it comprised more than two-thirds of the Australian total.

Despite an 11% increase in the volume of irrigation water applied in the Murray–Darling Basin in 2008–09, the area of irrigated land fell 3%.

The largest use of water by farmers in the Murray-Darling Basin was for irrigation of cotton (793 gigalitres), cereal crops for grain or seed (707 gigalitres) and pasture for grazing (518 gigalitres).

Further information can be found in Water Use on Australian Farms, 2008-09 (cat. no. 4618.0).

Media notes:

When reporting ABS data the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or ABS) must be attributed as the source.