Energy and Water Survey

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Click the button below to create and log into your ABS Survey Account and complete your survey online.

Contact us

If you need help completing this survey, please call one of our team on 1800 882 362 during business hours or use our Business Surveys Contact Form to outline the details of your situation and we will be in touch.

Purpose of the survey

The Energy and Water Survey (EWS) is an annual survey that collects data on energy, water, and fuel usage, and electricity generation by businesses/organisations in Australia. Your participation in the survey will provide vital information which enables industry, business, and government to make informed decisions, which may assist your community or business/organisation.

Thank you for your participation

We acknowledge and value your time and effort participating in this survey. It is only with the support of people like you that we can continue to produce the statistics that inform Australia's important decisions.

Frequently asked questions

About this survey

Why has this business been included in the EWS?

This survey includes a range of businesses/organisations, varying in size and industry, to best reflect the supply and use of energy and water in Australia. Your participation is vital because you represent other businesses/organisations in your industry with similar characteristics, and every industry is important.

What questions are asked in the EWS?

This survey includes questions on electricity generation, and energy and fuel usage. It may also include questions on water usage, supply, and discharge.

Do we have to answer the questions?

Yes. Under the Census and Statistics Act 1905, you are obliged to provide the information requested by the ABS. All the information you provide will remain strictly confidential.

We recognise that your business/organisation may have been impacted by recent events, including natural disasters or the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Our aim is to ensure that Australia has access to the best possible information on the social and economic impacts of these events. Your participation in our survey at this time is critical in informing our country’s response. By completing this survey, you help to ensure the results truly reflect the state of Australian businesses/organisations.

Will the information we provide be kept safe, secure, and confidential?

Yes. We take the security of your information very seriously. Your completed form and personal information will remain strictly confidential to the ABS. We use the information you provide to calculate statistics, which are released in ways that do not allow for the identification of individual businesses or organisations.

The information in this survey is collected under the authority of the Census and Statistics Act 1905. Under the Act, staff of the ABS are obliged to maintain the confidentiality and privacy of information provided. We comply with the Australian Privacy Principles. If you believe we have breached these principles, please see the information on how to lodge a complaint about privacy matters, contained within our privacy policy.

Will we be paid for our time?

No. There is no provision within the Census and Statistics Act 1905 to reimburse individuals, businesses, or organisations for the cost of providing statistical information. In line with other national statistical organisations throughout the world, individuals, businesses, and other organisations are asked to supply information for statistical purposes without compensation. It is only with the support of people like you that we can continue to produce the statistics that inform Australia's important decisions.

We have already completed the survey and have received a reminder letter. What should we do?

If you have received a reminder letter about completing a survey, it is likely that you have returned the survey at the same time as we issued your reminder notice. If you wish to confirm this, please call one of our team on 1800 882 362 and we will check the information against our records.

How do I complete this survey?

How do we answer the EWS?

There are two ways you can complete this survey.

1. Online

If you have received a letter or email from us with a Form Access Code, you can access and complete your survey form online using that code. Go online to your ABS Survey Account, set up an account, or if you already have one, log in, and then add your Form Access Code to retrieve the form. If you are unable to complete your survey online, or have not received the letter we sent you, please call us on 1800 882 362 and one of our team will be happy to assist you.

The ABS Survey Account is a secure service that allows a form to be accessed as many times as is needed before final submission. After submission of a survey, you will not be able to access the contents. If you are concerned that you have provided incorrect information, please call us on 1800 882 362 and one of our team will be happy to assist you. When you have set up an ABS Survey Account, the same account can be used to access and answer future surveys.

2. Paper form

If you have received a letter from us with an enclosed paper form, please complete the form and return it to us using the Reply Paid envelope provided. Alternatively, you can complete the form online. Instructions on how to complete the form online are written on the front of the paper form.

Why can't we see the information we provided last year in the current survey web form?

Due to strict privacy policy guidelines protecting the information submitted by our data providers, we create new survey forms that do not contain previously submitted data. We recommend printing or saving a PDF copy of the submission receipt after submitting your web form, so that you have a copy for your records.

We are having trouble completing the survey online – where can we find help?

For more information on completing our surveys online, help is available on our Survey Account Help page. This page helps with technical difficulties and includes frequently asked questions which assist in creating and using the ABS Survey Account. If you are having trouble creating or accessing your account, completing the survey online, or have not received your Form Access Code, please call us on 1800 882 362 and one of our team will be happy to assist you.

About our business

Do we still need to complete the survey if the business was sold before the start of, or during, the reference period?

Please complete your survey form with comments indicating the sale of the entity and the date of the sale. This will help determine whether the business will be selected in the next survey reference period.

If the business operated by the selected entity (e.g. ABN) was sold during the reference period, then the survey should be completed using figures up to, and including, the day that the business was sold, as well as figures relating to any other new activity undertaken by the selected entity for the remainder of the financial year. Please also provide the name of the new business owners.

Do we still need to complete the survey if the business is still operating but didn’t trade during the reference period?

You will still need to submit your survey with comments stating that your business/organisation did not trade this year. You do not need to include any figures or zero values.

Do we still need to complete the survey if the business has gone into liquidation/administration during the reference period?

Please complete the survey using information up to, and including, the day that the business was liquidated or went into administration. It is also important to report the date that this occurred. If you are unable to access business information, then the liquidator or administrator should complete the survey. Where this is not possible, best available estimates of the data should be provided. If you are not able to provide estimates, please call us on 1800 882 362 and one of our team will be happy to assist you.

We run our business from home – what information should we provide?

For home-based businesses, please report estimates related to the business only. For example, expenditure reported by the business for taxation purposes. 

Should we separate out the electricity/natural gas/water usage fees from administrative fees?

All administrative charges including supply charges, fixed price and usage fees, maintenance, etc. should be included. 

What if the billing period for purchased electricity/natural gas/water falls outside of the reporting period?

Report expenditure and consumption of electricity/natural gas/water received from a supplier based on the consumption and expenditure detailed for the equivalent twelve-month period closest to the reporting period. In the comment box, please advise if estimates were used, and provide as much detail as possible about how the estimates were calculated. 


We already provide energy related data to government under the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) Act 2007. Why do we need to provide energy related data to the ABS too?

The NGER concept of ‘operational control’ does not meet all ABS requirements for data necessary to compile estimates comparable to other key ABS economic indicators. Therefore, consumption and expenses related to facilities under the financial control of the business/organisation unit referenced on the address label of this form should be reported.

Please report all levels of generation and consumption. Do not apply the thresholds used in NGER reporting.

We are unable to source both volume and expenditure information for all fuel types consumed – what should we do?

If you are unable to provide both volume and expenditure information, careful estimates are acceptable. For example, you can divide total expenditure by average fuel price to calculate a quantity or multiply total consumption of fuel by average fuel price to calculate expenditure. In the comment box, please advise if estimates were used and provide as much detail as possible about how the estimates were calculated.

Should we include fuels used in our fleet of vehicles?

Yes, include any fuels that have been consumed in your fleet of vehicles. 

This business/organisation on-sells vehicles to other businesses/organisations and households that have fuels included in the cost of the vehicles. Should we include the fuel in these vehicles as it is not used by this business/organisation?

Yes, you should include the fuel used in vehicles that are being on-sold. This fuel is an input to the production process and therefore, should be included as part of your consumption. 

What is meant by energy/fuels supplied on a non-monetary basis?

This includes the use of energy products sourced from other related business units (subsidiaries) within or from other businesses/organisations, where no corresponding financial transaction has taken place. 

If this is relevant to you, details can be reported in the comments boxes to inform the ABS about the information provided on the form. 


Why did I not receive any water questions on my form?

The EWS is currently targeted at businesses/organisations that span the breadth of the Australian economy, and we have different forms aimed at different industries and business types. We only require data on water usage for businesses/organisations in certain water-intensive industries, while other businesses/organisations will only receive a form with questions on energy-related items.

Our business/organisation supplies its own water and sewerage services on-site. Should we report these expenses?

In this case, you should only report expenses for water purchased from water authorities or other businesses/organisations. 

Self-sourced water expenses should not be included, but volume and source should be reported at the appropriate question. 

Expenditure related to own on-site sewerage facilities should not be included. 

What if we cannot split out sewerage/wastewater services from our purchased water?

You can find volumes and expenditure for water received from a water supplier in your billing information. However, if exact breakdowns between sewerage/wastewater services and purchased water are not readily available, then careful estimates are acceptable. 

In the comment box, please advise if estimates were used, and provide as much detail as possible about how the estimates were calculated.

We are unable to provide volumes of potable/mains/raw water or recycled water received from a water supplier. How should we report?

You can find volumes and expenditure for water received from a water supplier in your billing information. 

If you are unable to locate exact breakdowns by type of water purchased, then careful estimates are acceptable. In the comment box, please advise if estimates were used, and provide as much detail as possible about how the estimates were calculated.

For offices/locations of your business/organisation that are leased under arrangements that include payments for water received, you should exclude the associated water volumes as this information will be reported by the appropriate business/organisation responsible for payment of your water expenses. 

We do not measure or meter our self-sourced water and so can’t provide volumes. How should we report?

If self-sourced water volumes are not available, please provide a careful estimate of the volume of self-sourced water extracted during the reporting period. In the comment box, please advise if estimates were used, and provide as much detail as possible about how the estimates were calculated.

Please do not report the capacity of your business/organisation’s water storage/extraction facilities or the volume of extract entitlement. This is not a suitable measure for estimated usage. 

How should we report water that is discharged to the environment (off-site) if it is not measured or metered?

If you do not measure or meter the volume of water that is discharged, then careful estimates are acceptable. In the comment box, please advise if estimates were used, and provide as much detail as possible about how the estimates were calculated.

Other information

How can we access the results of the EWS?

The EWS results are published in the Energy Account, Australia and the Water Account, Australia

Do you have a list of definitions?

Bagasse – a residue of the sugar cane milling process which can be used as a fuel. 

Biogas – gaseous fuels, also known as biofuels and biomass gas, which are produced from the decomposition/fermentation of organic waste. Examples include landfill methane and digester gas. 

Biomass – a solid renewable organic material that can be burnt as a fuel (e.g. bagasse, wood, and wood waste). It can also be used to produce liquid or gas biofuels (e.g. biogas). 

Black coal – a sedimentary organic rock consisting of anthracite, bituminous and sub-bituminous rank coals. Black coal is primarily used as a solid fuel to raise steam to generate electricity. 

Brown coal – also known as lignite, is a low rank, brownish-black coal with a high moisture content of around 60%. 

Brown coal briquettes – made from brown coal through a process of crushing, drying and the addition of a binding agent, to produce a compact, high-energy fuel that is easily transported. In Australia, it is used almost exclusively as a fuel for steam-electric power generation. 

Coal by-products – additional products derived during the operation of coke ovens and blast furnaces. Coal by-products include both liquids (tars and liquid hydrocarbon by-products, such as coal tars and tar oils) and gases (such as coke oven gas and blast furnace gas). It also includes blast furnace gas from iron and steel processing. 

Coke – a material derived from heating coal in the absence of air. It is used mainly as a fuel and reducing agent in smelting iron ore and is derived from the destructive distillation of low-ash, low-sulphur bituminous black coal. 

Compressed natural gas (CNG) – made by compressing purified natural gas to less than one percent of the volume it occupies at standard atmospheric pressure. It is used mainly in transportation. 

Cooling water – for the purposes of this survey, cooling water refers to single-use water used to regulate temperature by dissipating heat from processes and/or equipment. 

Crude oil – a mixture of hydrocarbons, existing in the liquid state, both in natural underground reservoirs and at atmospheric pressure after passing through surface separating facilities. 

Desalination – 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 use (usually for consumption, but sometimes for industrial purposes). 

Diesel (including biodiesel blends) – fuel for diesel engines obtained from the distillation of petroleum. It includes both automotive diesel oil and industrial diesel fuel. Biodiesel is a renewable fuel derived from vegetable oils or animal fats through the process of esterification. Biodiesel blended with conventional diesel, usually B5 or B20, is available at a number of service stations across Australia. 

Electricity – the flow of electrical power or charge. It is a secondary energy source, meaning it is derived from the conversion of primary sources of energy such as coal, natural gas and oil. 

Electricity provider – a business or organisation that provides or distributes electricity. Electricity providers may be electricity retailers, utility companies, government bodies or any other third party that provides electricity to this business/ organisation. Electricity providers may also generate electricity. 

Feedstock – a raw material used in the processing or production of another product.

Fuel oil – the heavy distillates from oil refining, used as a fuel for burning in furnaces or boilers, ships and locomotives. 

Fuel Tax Credits Scheme – this is an initiative that provides eligible businesses with a credit for the tax that is included in the cost of fuel purchased for their business.

Groundwater – water that collects beneath the substrate or soil surface (or below the ground's surface). 

Inland surface water – water on the surface of the planet that is located inland, i.e. not the ocean or seawater. Inland surface water includes water flowing or held in streams, rivers, and other wetlands in the landscape. 

Kerosene for use in aircraft – kerosene is a combustible hydrocarbon of varying composition. Kerosene for use in aircraft includes aviation turbine fuel (AVTUR) and Jet A-1.

Kerosene for non-aircraft use – kerosene is a combustible hydrocarbon of varying composition. It has many non-aircraft uses, including use as a solvent, fuel for heating and lighting, and a lubricant.

Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) – a combination of propane and butane, along with trace amounts of other compounds, recovered in either natural gas extraction or oil refining. The gases are transformed into a liquid to assist in transport. 

Mine dewatering – the process used to remove excess run-off and groundwater seepage into mines. 

National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Scheme (NGERS) – the scheme is administered by the Clean Energy Regulator (Commonwealth regulatory body), which is empowered under the NGER Act 2007 to collect aggregated annual energy consumption data from designated energy intensive businesses in Australia. 

Natural gas – a combustible mixture of hydrocarbon gases. It is formed primarily of methane; however, its composition can vary widely and commonly includes ethane, propane, butane, and pentane. It includes liquefied natural gas (LNG) and coal seam methane (CSM) 

Petrol (including E10) – a petroleum product used in motor vehicles. It is also known as automotive gasoline. It includes:

  • regular unleaded petrol – petrol that has zero lead content
  • premium unleaded – a high octane fuel which has an octane rating of RON 95 and 98 and is designed for high performance unleaded engines
  • ethanol blend – also known as E10 and is a blend of 10% ethanol fuel and 90% regular unleaded petrol. 

Potable/mains/raw water – first use water purchased from water suppliers via mains supply or transported/carted/trucked in by other businesses/organisations. Includes potable, mains, and raw water but excludes recycled water.

Produced formation water – the naturally occurring water that exists within oil and gas reserves. 

Recycled water – for the purposes of this survey, recycled water is water received from water suppliers only and does not include self-recycled water. This includes water that has been sourced by the water supplier from drainage, wastewater (including sewage) or stormwater that has been used again without first being discharged to the environment. It may have been treated to some extent. Recycled water is also known as re-use water or effluent re-use.

Refinery fuels – refinery coke and fuel gas as combusted or consumed by refineries. 

Seawater – water extracted from seas, oceans and estuaries and used for desalination and/or cooling. 

Self-sourced water – water that is extracted by this business/organisation directly from inland surface water, groundwater, seawater or other water bodies. This also includes harvested rainfall into tanks. It may or may not be extracted as part of a water licence or agreement. Examples include rivers, dams, lakes, bore water, produced formation water, seawater and stormwater into tanks. 

Sewage – human excreta or domestic waterborne waste, whether untreated or partially treated. 

Stormwater – rainfall which is collected as run-off from urban surfaces. 

Wastewater – any water that has been used once and cannot be used again without treatment (e.g. untreated effluent, sewage water and trade waste). 

Wastewater services – the removal, treatment and disposal of wastewater that is discharged into a sewerage or stormwater drainage system. 

Water supplier – a business or organisation that provides water through the piped mains system or other means of transport direct to site (e.g., trucks). This includes irrigation water, potable water, recycled water, raw water and/or bulk water supply service. Water suppliers may be government or private and often operate water storage, purification, and supply services. They may also provide sewerage or drainage services. 

Wood and wood waste – it includes wood and wood waste used to produce energy, usually through burning. 

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