The Canberra region

Overview of the 2012–13 year

The Canberra region is located in the southeast of Australia and within the Murray–Darling Basin. It covers the Australian Capital Territory and extends into New South Wales. One of the distinctive features of the region is the Lake Burley Griffin, in the centre of Canberra. The Murrumbidgee River is the main waterway joining with Cotter River, Gudgenby River, Molonglo River, and Queanbeyan River flowing through the region.

Water supply in the region is primarily sourced from storages and rivers. The major storages in the region are Bendora, Corin, Cotter, and Googong reservoirs. Recently, Cotter Reservoir was enlarged to increase its total capacity by nearly 20 times from 3,856 ML to 79,375 ML to deal with frequent, longer, and severe droughts without implementing high-level water restrictions for extended periods. As a result, total surface water storage capacity in the Canberra region has increased to 282,898 ML from 207,379 ML during the 2012–13 year.

Rainfall across the Canberra region was generally below average for the 2012–13 year. These rainfall conditions, compared to the 2011–12 year, contributed to decreased inflows into surface water storages. The volume of water held in storages decreased during the 2012–13 year by 24,840 ML. Closing net water assets in the Canberra region were 216,876 ML, compared to 241,667 ML at the end of the 2012–13 year. For more information on the region's water assets refer to Water accounting statements.

The key water account information for the Canberra region during the 2012–13 year is presented in the following table. Information on the uncertainty associated with the volumes presented in the table is provided in the relevant sections of the account.


Key water account information for the Canberra region during the 2012–13 year

Contextual information: Climate overview
Climate Overview 2012–13 2011–12 Long–term average
Rainfall: 692 mm Rainfall: 1,115 mm Rainfall: 800 mm
Evapotranspiration: 714 mm Evapotranspiration: 790 mm Evapotranspiration: 658 mm
For more detail on the Canberra climate refer to Climate overview.


Contextual information: Water overview
Water overview Molonglo River Cotter River Queanbeyan River
below mean annual flow below mean annual flow above mean annual flow
For more detail on streamflow in the Canberra region refer to Water overview.


Water accounting statements
Accounting statements   2012–13 2011–12
Total water assets (as at 30 June) 216,876 241,667
Total water liabilities (as at 30 June)
Change in net water assets (24,791) 1,060
Closing net water assets 216,876 241,667
For more detail on water assets and water liabilities refer to Water accounting statements.



Notes: Water resources and systems


Surface water storage
Surface water   30 June 2013 30 June 2012
Total capacity Volume % of capacity Volume % of capacity
282,898 ML 181,290 ML 64.1% 206,139 ML 99.4% of 2012 capacity
For more detail on surface water storage in the Canberra region refer to Surface water.


Water abstractions
Groundwater Total water abstracted  
2012–13 2011–12 Recent activity
Surface water: 49,552 ML Surface water: 43,205 ML Water abstraction has increased
Groundwater: 1,020 ML Groundwater: 770 ML

For more detail on water abstraction in the Canberra region refer to Surface water and Groundwater.


Urban water supply
Urban water supply Total water supplied  
2012–13 2011–12 Recent activity
47,838 ML 41,790 ML Use of allocated surface water for urban water supply has increased
For more detail on the urban water system in the Canberra region refer to Urban water system.