Water Storage Help

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Map tab

The map panel allows you to navigate to water storage information for places that interest you. Controls on the map are:

  • icons: hover over an icon on the map to learn more about that place, or click it to select the place.
  • buttons: click on the buttons on the top left to change the types of places you can see.
  • search box: type in the name of a place you are interested in, then select it from a list.


Individual water storages are shown with the triangular water storage icon (Single Storage). Collections of storages are shown with the aggregated storage icon (Aggregated Storage). These represent the set of water storages that are located within a region, for example the Murray-Darling drainage division. Circular icons (City Storage) represent a water supply system, such as those for capital cities.

When you hover over a map icon, a bubble will display information about that place.

Selecting an icon will allow you to navigate to that place where you will see a new map and detailed water storage information. For example, selecting the icon for Tasmania will show you the water storages or cities and systems located in that state.


The map of Australia (the starting view) has three buttons shown along the top left. These allow you to view different sets of water storage information, grouped by:

State or Territorystate or territory

capital city and water supply systemcapital city and water supply system

drainage divisiondrainage division

Capital cities are shown by default. Selecting the state or drainage division buttons will cause icons to appear for these places.

As you navigate, you will notice that the buttons shown on the map change:

back buttonThe back button returns you to your previous map view.

cities and systemsThe cities and systems button shows capital cities and key water supply systems.

water storages buttonThe water storages button shows individual water storages.


Type location or water storages names into the white box shown on the top right of the map. Typing the first few letters of a location will display a list of places including a city or water supply system, a state or territory, a drainage division or an individual water storage. For unique matches, the system will automatically navigate to that place.

Tips for using search:

  • The search is not case sensitive.
  • If you type a common word like Lake, the system will require more detail.
  • The search box will retain the text of your last search. Delete it to search again.

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Snapshot tab

The Snapshot tab is located immediately to the right of the map and is one of three tabs on this part of the screen. The snapshot gives you a quick view of the water storage status for the place you are viewing.

The name of the selected place is shown at the top of the tab.

The bar chart shows a comparison of the latest percent full (left bar) with the percent full at the same time last year (right bar). The currency of the data can be assessed based on the date shown at the bottom of each bar. For more information about how the percentages are calculated see FAQ.

The latest volume and the current accessible capacity of the place is shown underneath the chart.

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Summary tab

The Summary tab is the second of the three tabs located immediately to the right of the map. It contains a table at the top with text below.

For places with collections of storages (states, drainage divisions, cities and systems) the table lists the number of individual storages associated with the location and the sum of the accessible capacity of these storages.

The summary table lists more detailed information about particular water storages. This may include the following (if available):

  • capacity: accessible storage capacity in megalitres (ML)
  • year of completion: the year construction of the water storage finished
  • catchment area: land area that feeds the water storage
  • inflowing watercourses: names of rivers and streams flowing into the storage
  • full supply level: level of water when the storage is full
  • surface area: surface area of the full storage.

The text below the table describes the regions associated with your selection and may also provide interesting facts about the place.

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Changes tab

The Changes tab is the third of the three tabs located immediately to the right of the map.

What controls are on this tab?

The key control on this page is the drop-down menu located at the top right of the table. This menu allows you to select the time period of changes you wish to see. You can choose to compare the latest available data to the same time the previous year, or the month, week or day.

What does the table tell me?

The table of data responds to the selection you make on the drop-down menu.

Numbers in the left column show the latest available data.

The numbers on the extreme right indicate change over your selected time interval (on the drop-down menu).

The icon between the numbers indicates whether the storage volume has risen, fallen or remained static over the selected time interval.

When looking at an individual water storage, the table expands to show changes in water level and depth (above the minimum supply level), and changes in volume and percent full. For more information about how the percentages and percent change are calculated see FAQ.

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Details tab

The Details tab is located below the map. It is the default tab shown in this section of the screen when the location you have selected contains multiple sub-locations. For example, when you are viewing Australia the details table lists information on capital cities, states and territories or drainage divisions, depending on which button you select on the map.

The name of the selected place and the type of sub-places you are viewing is written on the top left of the tab. The default starting selection, for example, is 'Australia by Cities and Systems'.

Note: the details panel is not available for individual storages. You can use the Changes tab (top right of the screen) to explore similar information.

What controls are on this tab?

The main controls on this tab are three 'radio buttons' located above the table. These allow you to select whether you are interested in seeing information from the previous year (i.e. one year ago), the previous month or the previous week. As you change your selection, the data in the three columns on the right of the table changes accordingly.

What does the table tell me?

Each row in the table shows information about one of the places within your selected place (for example the capital cities within Australia). Hint: by clicking on the name of a place in the table (left column) you can navigate to that place.

The columns of the table are in two groups:

  • columns on the left show information about the latest observation
  • columns on the right show information from the previous time period selected

The Date Reported column is particularly useful as it shows you the date of the latest observation. Note that the date often varies from row to row, as information for different places is subject to different delays. The actual date used to retrieve data for the previous year, month, or week is based on the Date Reported (not from the current date).

For example, you may be using the system on 10 March 2010. If the Data Reported is 5 March 2010, then the data for the previous year will be from 5 March 2009.

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Graph tab

The Graph tab is located below the map. It shows a plot of the daily storage volume for up to the last two calendar years.
What can I see on the graph?

  • lines: the blue line shows the daily data for the present year; the orange line shows data for last year
  • left axis: shows the percentage full; from a minimum value of 0% up to a maximum value of 120%
  • right axis: shows the accessible volume of water stored in megalitres (ML); from a minimum of 0 to 120% of the current accessible capacity
  • lower axis: shows the months of the year (always from January to December)

Tips for interpreting graphs.

  • For periods when the blue line is higher than the orange line, this indicates more water in storage this year than at the same time last year.
  • Storages that change relatively slowly over time have smooth lines (for example Hume). This is typical of large water storages and groups of water storages.
  • Storages that change rapidly over time have jagged lines. This is typical of smaller storages and storages that are used principally for hydroelectric power generation such as Bronte Lagoon.
  • In some cases you may see a line with an extremely rapid rise and then an immediate fall (or vice versa). These may be errors in the data called a 'spike'; the Bureau works closely with all data providers in an effort to correct such errors as soon as possible.
  • Occasionally you may see a straight line which appears inconsistent with the rest of the data. In some cases this will be due to a gap in the data which has been infilled using a process called "linear interpolation".
During periods of high river flow or floods, water storages can hold more than 100% of their rated capacity. In some cases, the line may disappear off the top of the graph indicating that the storage is holding a volume greater than 120% of accessible capacity.

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What can I learn about water storages?

Australia has a variety of water storages, from natural lakes to reservoirs created by dams, pools behind weirs and farm dams. As the driest inhabited continent, Australia has the highest water storage capacity per capita of any country in the world.

Information is published on the water storage site about publicly-owned water storages. Typically the storages shown have the capacity to hold more than 1000 million litres (1000 ML) of water. The storages are owned or operated by government agencies, water authorities or water corporations. These organisations send water level and stored volume observations to the Bureau.

The Bureau quality checks the data before publishing the latest available water levels and volumes on this site. The interface also shows the total volume of water held in storage for particular regions, such as the Murray-Darling Basin and Queensland, and in storage systems such as capital city supply systems.

Water storages have important characteristics shown in the diagram below. Definitions for each of the terms are shown in the glossary. It is important to understand the following information about the water levels and volumes published by the Bureau:

Stored volume is the accessible volume of water held in storage - this excludes any dead storage capacity.

Water levels are published as the height of the water in the storage above mean sea level, or metres relative to the Australian Height Datum (AHD).

Water Storage Diagram Full Supply Level Minimum Supply Level Accessible Volume Dead Storage Accessible Storage Capacity Total Storage Capacity Observed Storage Level Water Depth
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What are the technical requirements?

Minimum browser requirements are:

  • Firefox 3 or similar
  • Screen size not less than 1024 by 768 pixels
  • Javascript and cookies must be enabled
  • Internet Explorer security level Medium (Internet Options.. -> Security)

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Unless otherwise noted, all material on this page is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Australia Licence