Frequently asked questions for Water in Australia:


What is Water in Australia and why is it produced?

Water in Australia is published annually to highlight key issues related to water resources and use at a national scale. It includes information about: water resources; water availability and water use by different sectors (urban, agriculture, other industries and environment); water management; entitlements and allocations and water trade. The publication presents an overall water situation report for Australia.

Water in Australia is produced to:

  1. increase understanding of the drivers of the water situation in Australia
  2. assess the water situation from a water security perspective in the context of use and availability
  3. identify the broad spatial patterns of water use and availability
  4. identify regional patterns and anomalies by examining the national picture
  5. provide a factual and analytical evidence base to inform public debate and policy prioritisation
  6. increase the transparency of water management
  7. assist identifying gaps in information and priority areas for data collection and research

As a series it documents how Australia's water situation is changing over time and can be used as a basis for identifying emerging issues for the near future.


What period is covered in each report?

Each publication in the series focuses on the previous financial year for which water use information is available.


How do reports differ from each other?

The focus for each report is a new financial year. Introductory contextual information is included in each report but does not duplicate what has previously been explained in detail. For subsequent years this is summarised and illustrated with new and more relevant examples and events.


How does Water in Australia improve upon the Bureau’s previous water assessments?

Water in Australia builds on the Australian Water Resources Assessment (AWRA) report and the National Water Account (NWA) Summary Report. It has the detailed use information for the major water use areas from the NWA and has the national coverage of the AWRA report. It is an overview report published annually. With the introduction of the Regional Water Information (RWI) product in 2015, most of the assessment information in the Water in Australia report has become available online. Additionally, RWI provides much more information regarding the status of the water resources at national, State or Territory, drainage divisions, water planning areas and river region scales on an annual and monthly basis. It also includes summaries for the large regions, making the Water in Australia report much more of an adjunct to RWI.


Does the report address all aspects of water?

The report focuses on water quantity to tell the story about the status of resources in a particular year, how much of this is available for use and how much was used. It is limited in the issues it addresses by constraints on data availability.


Is the report nationally comprehensive?

The report tells the story of the assessment year illustrated by significant events across Australia. Locations and examples featured in the report differ from year to year and comprehensive information can be found in the related web mapping product, Regional Water Information.


Why is Water in Australia only available about a year after the period it reports on?

Water-use information is not immediately available at the end of an assessment year. Some information, particularly in high water-use areas, only becomes available ten months after the end of the assessment year.


How can I access the information used in the report?

References are provided to all sources of information and a large proportion of this information is available for download in the web mapping product, Regional Water Information. A description of the methodologies used is also available from Regional Water Information.


How can localised information and regular updates on streamflow be accessed?

Regional Water Information provides information down to river region level on the status of water resources during the assessment year.

More up-to-date information on streamflow can be found in the Monthly Water Update which provides a regular snapshot of rainfall, streamflow, stream salinity and storage volumes for the previous month relative to average conditions.

The relationship between these three complementary products is illustrated below:

Complementary water product relationship



How can I use the report?

Water in Australia integrates a suite of information to elaborate on water resource conditions. An information evidence base is used to tell a story to support a variety of potential uses, including:

  • Informing water resource plans, new management regimes and policy by providing:
    • information on the drivers of the water situation across Australia
    • a perspective on water security in the context of use and availability
    • broad spatial patterns of water use and availability
    • identification of regional patterns and anomalies across the nation
    • a basis for identifying emerging issues by annual documentation of how Australia’s water situation is changing over time.

  • Facilitating water market efficiency by providing an historical overview of conditions across large areas.

  • Providing background/source material for:
    • communicating water issues
    • research projects on water issues
    • education around water resources and use.

  • Inform public debate by:
    • providing a factual and analytical evidence base to dispel myths and misconceptions
    • increasing transparency of water management.



What does the report tell us about water shortages?

The report does not make future projections. It provides an analysis of the recent past which can be used as a basis for understanding what is possible in the future.



How do the water-use estimates in Water in Australia relate to those in the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) Water Account Australia?

The Bureau of Meteorology's Water in Australia and the Australian Bureau of Statistics' Water Account Australia emphasise different aspects of Australian water use and group information differently.

Water Account Australia uses estimates of the water consumed by different sectors while Water in Australia reports on the amounts diverted which include losses.

The largest water-use volumes reported in Water in Australia (irrigation) largely come from the Bureau's National Water Account diversions estimates and urban water use is based on the Bureau's National Performance Report's total volumes of urban water sourced.

Water Account Australia integrates multiple data sources, including water supply information provided by water providers, water supply and use information provided by State and Territory government agencies, and water data collected on the ABS Agriculture survey.

The differences between these two products are within acceptable error ranges and arise from the above mentioned differences in estimation techniques.

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