National Water Account

What is the National Water Account?

The National Water Account is Australia’s most comprehensive water information report.

It provides a picture of water resources management for the previous financial year for ten nationally significant water regions: Adelaide, Burdekin, Canberra, Daly, Melbourne, Murray–Darling Basin, Ord, Perth, South East Queensland and Sydney.

The National Water Account discloses information about water stores and flows, water rights and water use. It also reports on the volumes of water traded, extracted and managed for economic, social, cultural and environmental benefit.

For more information please download the information sheet (484KB) or visit the National Water Account history page.

Why is the National Water Account important?

The National Water Account informs policy, planning and decision-making by governments and industry by providing detailed insight into the management of Australia’s water resources at a national and regional level.

It pulls together the best available data, standardises this information to ensure that it is nationally consistent and highlights data gaps.

The reporting regions included in the Account are home to more than 70-80 per cent of Australia’s population and are where 80-85 per cent of Australia's total annual water consumption occurs.

Why are we doing it?

As competition for water resources intensifies, it is more important than ever to account for how water is managed across Australia in a transparent and rigorous way.

The Bureau has statutory responsibility for compiling and delivering comprehensive water information across Australia under the Water Act 2007. The Act specifically requires the Director of Meteorology to publish an annual National Water Account.

The preparation and presentation of the National Water Account is guided by the Australian Water Accounting Standard.

What is water accounting?

The National Water Account is a product of the emerging practice of water accounting, which combines the science of hydrology with financial accounting models.

Water accounting is the systematic process of identifying, recognising, quantifying, reporting and assuring information about water, the rights or other claims to water, and obligations against that water.

Robust water accounts build confidence in our knowledge of the amount of water available, traded, extracted, used, and managed for environmental and other purposes.

The National Water Account is prepared and presented in accordance with the Australian Water Accounting Standard.


The National Water Account is the result of strong collaboration between the Bureau and Australian, State and Territory governments, agencies, water utilities and other agencies.

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