National Overview

Aire River estuary, Victoria (photograph by Alison Pouliot)
Photograph: Alison Pouliot


Key findings

  • Continued dry conditions across much of Australia through 2013–14 contributed to a second consecutive year of reduced inflows to storages and increased demand on the available resources in many regions.
  • Surface water storage volumes in the nine National Water Account regions decreased during the year—from approximately 30,978,800 ML (or 75% capacity) at 1 July 2013, to approximately 29,922,900 ML (or 72% of capacity) at 30 June 2014.
  • Water use was approximately 13,251,000 ML across the nine regions, a 21% decrease on use in 2012–13.
  • Surface water, including inter-region transfers, accounted for 84% of water used, while groundwater accounted for almost 15%.  Other sources, including desalinated water, contributed just over 1% of the volume of water used.
  • The Murray–Darling Basin accounted for 80% of water used in National Water Account regions—primarily for irrigated agriculture, which is the major use of water in Australia.
  • Water security in urban areas has been improved through investment in desalination plants. Coastal urban regions can produce desalinated water to meet a portion of urban demand. In 2013–14, Adelaide and Perth relied on desalinated water for almost 40% of urban supply, an increase of more than 30% from 2012–13. In comparison, good surface water availability in Melbourne, South East Queensland and Sydney meant little or no desalinated water was produced in these regions.