Water Use

Discussion

How is water being used in Australia? What value is being added to it?

One way to conserve water in Australia would be to cut back on those uses which add less value to the water.

This could be facilitated by putting a levy on water use that would make water too expensive for low-value-adding uses.The levy would be set at an amount that would reduce water consumption by the desired amount, eg to set aside water needed for the natural environment. (See: water allocation.)

Readings

Water Use - Australia

Australians Use More than 1 Million Litres of Fresh Water per Person per Year. ABS. 2000.5.3

Despite living on the driest continent on earth, Australians used more than 1 million litres of fresh water per person during 1996-97.

Water consumed in Australia 1996-7

 

Gigalitres

%

Total

22186

100

Agriculture

15502

70

Households

1829

8

Water supply, sewerage and drainage services

1706

8

Electricity and gas

1308

6

Manufacturing

725

3

Mining

570

3

Agriculture consumed the vast majority of the water, but the economic return per unit of water used was relatively low.

Industry earnings (gross product) per water used

Industry Sector

$/kL

Agriculture

0.59

Manufacturing

32-680

Service Industries

2.30-1,100

Irrigated production accounted for 26 percent of the total gross value of production from agriculture.

(Irrigated) agriculture earnings (gross product) per water used

Crop

$/kL

Vegetables

1.760

Fruit

1.460

Rice

0.189

Water Use - Australia

The Influence of Lifestyles on Environmental Pressure. Year Book Australia. ABS. 2002

More than two-thirds of Australian water is used for irrigating crops for animal and human consumption. All other industry sectors use comparatively small amounts.

Agricultural water use percentage by sector - percentage of water use

Sector

Percentage of human water use

Amount where 100% = 22000 GL

Livestock and pastures

38

8360

Sugar

7

1540

Rice

7

1540

Cotton

6

1320

Fruit and vegetables

6

1320

Grains excluding rice

3

660

Embodied Water Intensities

Embodied water intensities describe the amount of water needed throughout the whole economy in order to provide final consumers with one dollar's worth of various goods or services, or in other words, the amount of water embodied in that one dollar's worth of quantity. Agricultural products have the highest water intensities, followed by food items and manufacturing and mining products. Services are characterised by low water intensities.

Embodied Water Intensities: Selected Goods and Services Produced in Australia

Product

Litres/$

$/kL

Rice (in the husk)

7459

0.13

Seed cotton

1600

0.63

Sugar cane

1239

0.81

Dairy products

680

1.47

Wine

503

2.00

Beef products

381

2.60

Vegetables and fruit

103

9.70

Clothing

90

11.00

Paper products

30

33.00

Coal, ores and other mining products

30

33.00

Motor vehicles

15

67.00

Electronic equipment, TV, household appliances

16

63.00

Phone, Fax and mail

11

91.00

Banking and insurance

7

143.00

Education and health

7

143.00

Water Use - Australia

Australian Water Use Statistics (PDF). Michael Dunlop. CSIRO. 2001

Water Account, Australia 2000-2001. ABS. 2004

Water Consumption, Employment and Industry Gross Value Added (IGVA), by Selected Industries 2000-01

Water consumption

Employment

IGVA

Gross Value per Water Used

GL

no.

$m

$/kL

Agriculture(a)

16,660

369,379

9,618

0.58

Forestry and fishing(b)

27

62,288

1,546

57.30

Mining

401

78,891

33,975

84.70

Manufacturing

866

1,101,669

73,354

84.70

Electricity and gas supply

1,688

48,159

11,129

6.60

Water supply(c)

1,794

19,067

4,222

2.35

Other

832

7,386,258

405,776

488.00

(a) Water consumption and Industry Gross Value Added (IGVA) for irrigated agriculture only. Employment represents all irrigated and non-irrigated agriculture. (b) Includes services to agriculture; hunting and trapping. (c) Includes sewerage and drainage services.

Library

Water Resources and Use in Australia. Planet Water

2007.7.3