Assessing Australia's water resources

Image of Lake Eildon from the front cover of the Australian Water Resources 2010 report.

Image of Lake Eildon from the front cover of the Australian Water Resources 2010 report.

The Bureau of Meteorology has published its first Australian water resources assessment. This report will assist all Australians, particularly policy-makers and planners, to understand the current state of the nation's water resources and to assess the impact of past and present water management practices. The Australian Water Resources Assessment 2010 is the first in a regular series.

The Australian Water Resources Assessment 2010, released on the Bureau's website in November and formally launched in Canberra on 15 December 2011, is another milestone achievement of the Australian Governments Improving Water Information Program.

The 2010 Assessment presents data and information on the extent and magnitude of Australia's water resources in 2009-10 in the context of the long-term record. The report includes a national overview and an analysis of conditions across 13 reporting regions. It presents comprehensive information on the nation's surface water resources, critical urban water information and some information on groundwater resources.

Key findings of the 2010 Assessment are presented in a summary report. A technical supplement provides additional detail on the data selection, analysis and water balance modelling techniques used in preparing this report and the level of peer review and acceptance they have received.

This web-based report updates earlier assessments of Australia's water resources and will be regularly repeated by the Bureau.

Key findings from the 2010 Assessment:

  • Australian rainfall in 2009-10 was 13% above the long-term average (July 1911 to June 2010); evapotranspiration was 4% above the long-term average and landscape water yield was 40% above the long-term average.
  • Deep soil moisture stores increased in the northeast and southeast of the country, but decreased in the west.
  • The total water stored in major water storages in Australia increased from 46% to 52% of accessible volume, driven primarily by increases in the Murray-Darling Basin, Tasmania and North East Coast regions.
  • Urban water use decreased from 1,719 GL in 2005-06 to 1,497 GL in 2009-10. These volumes are totals for all the urban centres evaluated in the 2010 Assessment. Residential water consumption accounted for 68% of urban use in 2009-10.
  • Annual agricultural irrigation water use in Australia in 2009-10 was approximately 6,600 GL, up 1% on 2008-09.
  • Widespread heavy rains fell in the Northern Territory and Queensland between 22 February and 3 March 2010 causing significant flooding in the Lake Eyre Basin region, in the south of the North East Coast region and in the far north of the Murray-Darling Basin region.

Access the Australian Water Resources Assessment 2010