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National Water Account 2018

        

Northern Australia regions: Overview

  • Storage volumes in the northern Australia regions decreased from last year.
  • Water use was 1,857 GL, around 18% more than last year.
  • Most of the water use was for irrigation scheme supply and agricultural purposes.

 

Climate and Water

Rainfall across northern Australia during July 2017–June 2018 compared with historical records (1911–2017)

Rainfall across northern Australia during July 2017–June 2018 compared with historical records (1911–2017)

 

  • Below-average annual rainfall occurred over much of the northern Australia water account regions, including the Ord, Burdekin, and Fitzroy regions.
  • Annual rainfall was high across the western Top End of Northern Territory, including the lower Daly region, and coastal areas of the Kimberley region due to two tropical lows that impacted northwestern Australia in January 2018.
  • Heavy rainfall in late-January 2018 from one of the tropical lows caused a major flood in the Daly River.

 

Percentage-full volume during 1 July 2015–30 June 2018 for northern Australia region storages

Percentage-full volume during 1 July 2015–30 June 2018 for northern Australia region storages

 

  • Storage volumes in the Ord and Fitzroy regions declined for almost the entire year. End of year storage in the Ord dropped by 24% from last year after being over 100% for much of the latter half of 2016–17.
  • Heavy rainfall in March 2018 across the Burdekin region contributed to storages exceeding 130% full in early April.
  • In the Daly region, below-average rainfall for most of the year resulted in a decrease in aquifer storage.

 

Water availability

Water allocations and abstractions in the northern Australian regions for 2017–18

Water allocations and abstractions in the northern Australian regions for 2017–18

 

  • Total water allocations of 2,091,000 ML were similar to the previous year.
  • 60% of the allocated water was estimated to have been used, compared with 51% last year.
  • The increase in allocated water use reflects the low rainfall across most of the northern Australia regions compared with last year.

 

Water sources and supply

Total water sourced in the northern Australian regions for 2017–18

Total water sourced in the northern Australian regions for 2017–18

 

  • Total water sourced across the northern Australia regions was 1,857,300 ML.
  • Surface water made up 84% of total water supply and was the dominant source of water in the northern Australia regions except for Daly.
  • In the Burdekin and Fitzroy regions, additional groundwater licences issued in 2017–18 contributed to a large increase in groundwater use compared with last year.

 

Users of water in the northern Australian regions for 2017–18

Users of water in the northern Australian regions for 2017–18

 

  • Approximately 52% of total water supply was used for irrigation schemes; 45% was for individual users, primarily for agricultural purposes.
  • In the Daly, where there are no irrigation schemes, most of the water was sourced from the Tindall and Oolloo aquifers for agricultural purposes.
  • In these sparsely populated areas, town water supply made up only around 2% of water use.