History of the National Water Account

The Commonwealth Water Act 2007 requires that the Director of Meteorology annually publish the National Water Account in a form readily accessible by the public.

In December 2008, the Bureau of Meteorology, with the cooperation and assistance of the lead water agencies in each State and Territory, began the journey towards the regular publication of the National Water Account.

The National Water Account is a new style of water reporting which brings together hydrology and financial accounting. A 10 year timeframe is envisaged for the development of a mature National Water Account and a continuous improvement strategy has been adopted. This involves cycles of evaluation and review leading to developments in methods, coverage and presentation.

The following summarise the key achievements in each annual National Water Account and the initial pilot.

National Water Account 2015

Following a successful pilot the Burdekin has been included as the tenth region in the National Water Account.

The entry page has been revised and region account aesthetics have been improved. The webpages have been modified to improve usability, interaction and content presentation. The region overviews were also redesigned to better convey key findings.

New schematics were added to help readers understand water accounting concepts.

The climate overview and water overview pages were combined into a single web page to improve the logical 'story-telling' around rainfall, potential evapotranspiration, soil moisture and streamflow responses. This includes new rainfall and soil moisture maps—annual or monthly decile maps show how conditions varied temporally and spatially.

National Water Account 2014

  • Improved structure to increase readability.
  • Region accounts contain less text and and more schematics and graphs, with some the underlying data available as downloadable files. This new format provides more visualisation of the region's water flows, water assets and water liabilities, so you can more readily understand the region’s water store. Feedback on the new structure is welcomed and can be sent to nwa@bom.gov.au

National Water Account 2013

  • Published within one year of the reporting period.
  • Improved consistency and quality of region accounts.
  • Maps and icons redesigned.
  • Region overviews and the National Summary were refined based on user feedback.

National Water Account 2012

  • The Daly region in the Northern Territory was introduced. It is under considerable development pressure and has significant environmental and cultural water value.
  • The Daly report summarised Indigenous cultural values and needs in the water sharing process.
  • The following enhancements were introduced:
    • National Water Account 2012 Summaryintroduced, summarising broad trends, major water initiatives, water access and entitlements, and water trade across the regions and the country.
    • Region overviews - highlights the climate, surface water storage, urban water supply and irrigation supply in each region.
    • National Water Account Companion Guide - provides an overview of the concepts which shape the National Water Account.

National Water Account 2011

  • The preparation and publication process was streamlined, technical methods refined and the interpretation of underlying concepts clarified.
    • The water accounting statements were revised and simplified and included the comparison year to provide insights into changes.
    • Segment reporting for the Murray–Darling Basin provided increased detail about water management in sub-areas of the Basin.
    • Review and restructure of the notes in the water accounting reports.

National Water Account 2010

  • Learnings from Pilot National Water Account were actioned.
  • Partnerships were established with 38 organisations who jointly developed the content.
  • Planning defined the scope of the water accounting report and the geographic boundaries of the regions.

Pilot National Water Account

  • Published in December 2009 it demonstrated the breadth of information and methodology being considered for inclusion in the National Water Account.
  • Feedback and knowledge guided the content and structure of the National Water Account.
  • The trial was for seven regions with differing spatial scales and hydrological conditions, of which four were published in the Pilot Account.


The Council of Australian Governments established a National Water Account Committee in 2008. The Committee developed a roadmap for the publication of the pilot account and the first National Water Account and provided advice to the Bureau about the ongoing development and refinement of the National Water Account.

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