National Water Account 2018

        

National overview

  • Very dry conditions were experienced across most of southeastern Australia.
  • Storage volumes in the Murray–Darling Basin were 25% lower than last year.
  • Total water use was 15,830 GL, about 4% more than last year.
  • Most of the water use was for irrigation and agricultural purposes.

 

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Climate and water

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

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

 

  • Fewer than average low pressure systems and cold fronts across southeastern Australia during the year resulted in very low annual rainfall across the Murray–Darling Basin, Adelaide, Canberra, Melbourne, and Sydney regions.
  • Annual rainfall in some parts of the Murray–Darling Basin and Sydney regions was the lowest on record.
  • In contrast, annual rainfall in Perth was slightly above average and the highest in six years.
  • Annual rainfall was high across the western Top End of Northern Territory, including the lower Daly region, as well as across northern and central parts of Western Australia, due to two tropical lows that impacted these areas in January 2018.

 

Percentage-full volume at 30 June 2018 for region storages compared to the previous year

Percentage-full volume at 30 June 2018 for region storages compared to the previous year

 

  • Below-average rainfall across southeastern Australia meant storage volumes in the Murray–Darling Basin, Adelaide, Canberra, Melbourne, and Sydney regions decreased from last year. End of year storages in Melbourne and Sydney were the lowest since 2010.
  • In Perth, storage volumes increased during the year due to a combination of improved rainfall conditions and reduced diversions for urban supply compared to previous years. The end of year storage of 45% full was the highest in more than 20 years.
  • Storage volumes in the Ord and Fitzroy regions declined for almost the entire year. The normal filling and spilling of storages during the wet season did not occur due to the below-average rainfall.

 

Water availability

Water allocations and abstractions in the regions for 2017–18 compared with 2016–17

Water allocations and abstractions in the regions for 2017–18 compared with 2016–17

 

  • Total water allocation was 22,117 GL, similar to the previous year.
  • Across all regions, 62% of allocated water was used, compared to 54% last year.
  • The increase in allocated water use reflects the drier conditions and lower water availability across most of the regions, particularly in southeastern Australia, compared to last year.

 

Water sources and supply

Total water sourced in the regions for 2017–18 compared with 2016–17

Total water sourced in the regions for 2017–18 compared with 2016–17

 

  • Total water sourced by the regions was 15,830 GL, about 4% more than the previous year.
  • Surface water made up 82% of total water supply and was the dominant source of water in all regions except for Perth and Daly.
  • The portion of total water supply from groundwater increased from last year, which was largely influenced by the drop in surface water availability across the Murray-Darling Basin region.

 

Users of water in the regions for the 2017–18 year

Users of water in the regions for the 2017–18 year

 

  • 74% of water supply was used for irrigation, industry and other uses.
  • 15% was supplied for urban use and 11% was for environmental purposes to support the health of rivers and wetlands.
  • Five of the 11 regions—Burdekin, Daly, Fitzroy, Murray–Darling Basin and Ord—are primarily agricultural; the remaining six regions are dominated by urban water use.

 

Urban water use

Water sources and volumes for urban centres for years 30 June 2012–30 June 2018

Water sources and volumes for urban centres for years 30 June 2012–30 June 2018

 

  • Water sourced for the urban systems in Adelaide, Canberra, Melbourne, and Sydney was 5–9% higher than last year. This increase was influenced by the drier conditions across southeastern Australia.
  • In Adelaide, the decrease in surface water availability meant more inter-region transfers from the River Murray were required to meet urban demand.
  • In Perth, desalinated water and groundwater continued to underpin urban water supply.
  • Desalinated water production continued at the Victorian Desalination Plant but contributed less to Melbourne's urban demand than last year.

 

Water market activity

Interstate trade allocation activity (in ML) in the Murray–Darling Basin region in 2017–18

Interstate trade allocation activity (in ML) in the Murray–Darling Basin region in 2017–18

 

  • The Murray–Darling Basin accounts for more than 95% of surface water entitlement trade and most of the allocation trade in the National Water Account.
  • The volume of trade in surface water allocations in the region was 7,100 GL, a 7% increase from the previous year.
  • South Australia and New South Wales were net importers of allocation water, while Victoria was a net exporter. A similar trend of net allocation trade to South Australia was observed during the previous four years.