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Integrated water accounts for the Canberra region, 2013–14 to 2016–17

Why integrated water accounts?

  • The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) produce national water accounts of different types for differing but complementary purposes, using two distinct frameworks.
  • The BoM's National Water Account (NWA) focuses on the volume of water in the environment, its availability, the rights to abstract water and the actual abstraction over time. The ABS's Water Account Australia (WAA) focuses on flows of water from the environment to the water supply industry and other economic activities, the flows of water from the water supply industry to households and businesses, and the monetary values associated with water supplied and used in the economy.
  • A collaboration between these two government organisations has produced an integrated set of water accounts for the Canberra region.


How were the accounts integrated?

Figure K1 Venn diagram showing conceptual overlap between BoM National Water Account and ABS Water Account Australia
Figure K1 Conceptual relationship between BoM National Water Account and ABS Water Account Australia


  • The ABS produces water accounts for Australia and each of its states and territories, while the BoM produces water accounts for 11 nationally significant water regions, including the Canberra region. The Canberra region was chosen as the focus area for this project as it is the region for which there is the closest geographical alignment between the ABS and BoM water accounts.
  • This pilot account encompasses four 1-year reporting periods ending on June 30 for the following years: 2013–14, 2014–15, 2015–16 and 2016–17.


What are the benefits of the integrated accounts?

  • The integration of the ABS and BoM accounts will aid reporting and environmental management in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) region by providing more integrated information. This builds on previous work by the ACT Office of the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment (Smith et al. 2017).
  • The pilot account also supports a collaborative governmental national approach to environmental-economic accounting, by bringing together multisector/multidisciplinary expertise, and assisting in a greater understanding and sharing of data sources and data gaps.


Integrated account structure

  • This pilot account is organised as follows:


Pilot account sectionDescription
Key findingsProvides a quick overview of key facts and figures from the accounts. 
BackgroundProvides contextual information for understanding the accounts, including geographic features, land use, water resources and water systems.
Statement of Water Assets and Water LiabilitiesSimilar to a balance sheet, presents the volume of water assets and water liabilities at the start and end of each year (prepared according to AWAS)
Statement of Changes in Water Assets and Water LiabilitiesSimilar to an income statement, presents the changes in water assets and water liabilities that occurred during the year including both accrual transactions and actual water flows (prepared according to the AWAS)
Water Asset AccountsProvides similar information to the previous two statements but with a different presentation based on the SEEA framework, and some further disaggregation. 
Supplementary information for Statements/Asset AccountsProvides supplementary and explanatory information regarding the three statements/accounts in the previous sections.
Water use/water in the economyPresents the physical water supply and use accounts, and the monetary supply and use accounts, both prepared based on the SEEA framework. These accounts describe the water flows in physical units within the economy and associated monetary data.
Water qualityPresents information on the health and condition of waterways across the Canberra region using the SEEA framework.
Climate and waterProvides an overview of the climatic conditions and important water related events during the reporting period. 
Water marketsProvides an overview of water entitlements, allocations, use and trade during the reporting period.
Water managementProvides contextual information about the administrative and legal frameworks of water management in the Canberra region
Water rightsProvides contextual information about water rights in the Canberra region.
Cultural and environmental benefitProvides contextual information about cultural and environmental benefit derived from water in the Canberra region.
GovernanceProvides a summary of water accounting frameworks and policies that have been used to prepare the integrated accounts.
MethodsProvides a summary of the methods used to compile the accounts. 
ReferencesLists references and further reading related to the accounts and the Canberra region.