Wet season 2016–17 boosts water resources in northern Australia

We have recently released the northern Australia region accounts—Burdekin, Daly and Ord—of the National Water Account 2017

Overall, in northern Australia for the 2016–17 financial year:
  • Total water use was about 8% less than the previous year due to wetter conditions.
  • Approximately 60% of total water supply was used for irrigation. A further 40% was used by individual users, primarily for agricultural purposes.
  • In these predominantly agricultural and sparsely populated areas, only around 1% was used for town water supply.
  • Surface water resources accounted for nearly 90% of total water use across the northern Australia regions. However, in the Daly region, approximately 80% of total water used is sourced from groundwater.
Individual region accounts showed us:
  • Wet season rainfall was mostly below average in the Burdekin region. However, above-average rainfall in March 2017, associated with ex-tropical cyclone Debbie, increased storage volumes to 96%.
  • This was the first annual increase in groundwater availability for the Daly region in five years.
  • Heavy wet season rainfall across the Ord region led to Lake Argyle storage volumes exceeding 100% full in late-January and continued to spill until August 2017.
Applying the rigour and principles of financial accounting to water resources, the National Water Account gives detailed insight into Australia’s water situation for the previous financial year for ten nationally significant water use regions. 

This insight informs policy, planning and decision-making by governments and industry.
The National Water Account regions cover approximately 75% of Australia’s population and 80% of the country’s water use.

The urban region reports (Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth, South East Queensland and Sydney) will be available in March. The Murray–Darling Basin, a pilot Fitzroy (Qld) account, national summary and video will be available mid-year.

The National Water Account is prepared by the Bureau in partnership with many State and Territory governments, agencies, water utilities and other organisations.