4653.0 - Environment and Energy News, Dec 2008  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/01/2009   
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Irrigation water use in 2006–07 fell by 29% from the previous year, according to Water Use on Australian Farms 2006–07 (cat. no. 4618.0), released in August 2008.

The largest decline in irrigation water use was for rice, with volumes down more than 81%, followed by cotton (down 50%) and pasture for grazing (down 30%). The major use of irrigation water in 2006–07 was for pasture for dairy cattle, which accounted for 15% of all irrigation water use.

New South Wales reported the largest decrease in water for irrigation, a fall of 42% since 2005–06. Water use for irrigation in Tasmania increased by 29%, and by 8% in South Australia, mostly for pasture for grazing.

Other findings included:

• 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).

• the volume of groundwater used by farms increased by nearly 15%, while volumes from all other sources decreased.

For further information, contact Ron Just on (03) 6222 5842 or ron.just@abs.gov.au