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1338.1 - NSW State and Regional Indicators, Dec 2010  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 31/01/2011  Final
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ENVIRONMENT

Data cubes with detailed statistics are available on the Downloads page.


INTRODUCTION


Measuring environmental change is required to determine whether the quality and quantity of Australia's natural resources and environmental assets are improving or declining. It is also vital to assess whether actions undertaken to safeguard the environment are working effectively. Environmental progress equates to a reduction of threats to the environment and improvements in the health of our ecosystems. This includes the quality of the natural landscape (land, water, biodiversity), air and atmosphere, oceans and estuaries.


WATER USE


Water in Australia is a valuable resource, required for almost every industry, particularly agriculture, as well as drinking water and household use. In NSW, water consumption during 2008–09 was 4,562 GL compared to 5,922 GL in 2004–05, a decrease of 23%. In 2008–09, the Agriculture industry was the highest consumer with 2,001 GL or 44% of the total water consumption in NSW. This was followed by the Water supply, sewerage and drainage services industry which consumed 1,329 GL (29%), mostly due to losses of water in distribution. Households were also significant consumers of water, accounting for 536 GL or 12% of total NSW water consumption.


WATER CONSUMPTION, NSW–2004–05 and 2008–09

WATER CONSUMPTION, NSW–2004–05 and 2008–09

The 2010 ABS Environmental Issues: Water use and Conservation of Australian Households Survey revealed that mains water is the most common source of water for NSW households–some 95% of NSW households reported sourcing their water from the mains/town water supplies. Nearly all households in Sydney (98%) were connected to mains/town water, compared with 89% of households outside Sydney. Of the 2.2 million NSW households living in a dwelling suitable for a rainwater tank, 24% reported that their dwelling had a rainwater tank installed. A greater proportion of dwellings in areas outside Sydney had a rainwater tank (33%) compared to those in Sydney (16%).


CLIMATE INDICATORS

Water supply and use in Australia needs to be viewed in the context of Australia's climate. According to the Bureau of Meteorology's Seasonal Climate Summary for NSW, Winter 2010 produced a colder and wetter than average season. This is the first time NSW has experienced above average winter rainfall since 2005. NSW experienced it's coldest winter since 1998 on the basis of statewide average maximum temperatures, with below to very much below average temperatures recorded across much of NSW. This is the first time since 1998 that NSW has experienced winter maximums that were below the historical average and it was the 16th coolest winter on record for NSW.

The statewide annual average rainfall for 2009 (the latest calendar year for which data was available at the time of publication) was 497 mm, which is below the Bureau of Meteorology's historical average of 553 mm. The Bureau stated that an El Niño event contributed to the dry conditions experienced in the second half of the year. In 2002 and 2006, there were major rainfall anomalies in NSW, with rainfall levels falling below the long-term average by 241 mm and 201 mm respectively. Sydney recorded a higher annual rainfall (956 mm) than the state average in 2009.

RAINFALL, Sydney and NSW–2001 to 2009

RAINFALL, Sydney and NSW–2001 to 2009

According to the Bureau of Meteorology's Annual Climate Summary for NSW, 2009 (the latest calendar year for which data was available at the time of publication) was the warmest year on record for NSW. The Bureau stated that the very high temperatures experienced throughout the second half of 2009 were likely due to the influence of the 2009 El Niño combined with the background, long-term warming that has been observed across Australia since the start of last century. These extremely warm conditions also contributed to NSW in 2009 recording the warmest winter and warmest spring on record. The statewide average maximum temperature for 2009 was 25.3°C which is above the Bureau of Meteorology's historical average for the state of 23.9°C. Minimum temperatures were also above average with NSW recording an average of 11.9°C which is above the Bureau of Meteorology's historical average for the state of 10.7°C.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology's Annual Climate Summary for Sydney for 2009, Sydney (Observatory Hill) experienced generally warm days during 2009. The average annual maximum (daytime) temperature was 22.9°C which is above the historical annual average for Sydney (22.0°C) and the average minimum (night-time) temperature was 15.2°C which is well above the historical average during 2009 (14.0°C).


AIR QUALITY

Air quality has direct impacts on human health and enjoyment of life. Poor air quality has a range of negative impacts: it can cause health problems, damage infrastructure, reduce crop yields and harm flora and fauna. Air quality can be poorer in urban areas. The Ambient Air Quality National Environment Protection Measure (AAQ NEPM) (see Glossary) sets the maximum number of days on which a relevant standard (a specified concentration of the pollutant) may be exceeded. NSW consistently meets the goals for carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and lead, however ozone and airborne particles continue to be problematic.

Airborne particles with an aerodynamic diameter of less than 10 micrometres PM10 can affect human health. Airborne particles may be solid matter (such as dust, dirt or soot) or liquid droplets. These particles result from both natural and human sources. Natural sources include bushfires, dust storms, pollens and sea spray. Human activities that create airborne particles include motor vehicle emissions, industrial processes, use of unpaved roads and using woodheaters.

The NEPM goal is that by 2008 the particulate matter standard would not be exceeded on more than five days per year. In most years between 2001 and 2009, the number of days on which the PM10 standard was exceeded in NSW’s three most populated areas, Sydney (excluding Campbelltown), Illawarra and Lower Hunter was on average below 10 per year. However, there were sharp rises in the number of exceedence days in 2002 and 2009, mainly due to the occurrence of severe forest fires and dust storms.

NUMBER OF DAYS THE PARTICULATE CONCENTRATION STANDARD WAS EXCEEDED(a), SELECTED AREAS, NSW

NUMBER OF DAYS THE PARTICULATE CONCENTRATION STANDARD WAS EXCEEDED(a), SELECTED AREAS, NSW


Ozone is present in the upper atmosphere (stratosphere) and the lower atmosphere (troposphere). The ozone in the stratosphere (the 'ozone layer') protects human, animal and plant health by reducing the levels of damaging UV-B radiation reaching the Earth's surface. In contrast, ozone at ground level is an air pollutant that is harmful to human health and vegetation.

The AAQ NEPM sets two standards for ozone: a 1-hour standard of 0.10 parts per million (ppm) and a 4-hour standard of 0.08 ppm. The goal is that by 2008 these standards would be exceeded on no more than one day per year. In Sydney the four-hour standard has been exceeded on more than one day every year since 2001, with 21 exceeding days in 2001 and 14 exceeding days in 2002 and 2004. The Illawarra has had fewer exceeding days over the period, while the Lower Hunter has not had a single exceeding day between 2001 and 2009.


GREENHOUSE GASES


In NSW in 2008, net greenhouse emissions (excluding emissions from land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF)) totalled 156.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, an increase of 12% from 1990 levels. The Stationary Energy sector (mainly electricity generation) is a major contributor to greenhouse gases and accounted for over half (52%) of the total net emissions in 2008. This sector also recorded the largest increase in greenhouse gas emissions over time (up 35% on 1990 levels). In contrast the Agriculture and Waste sectors had declines of 28% and 23% respectively between 1990 and 2008.

CHANGE IN GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS, By sector, NSW–1990 to 2008(a)(b)

CHANGE IN GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS, By sector, NSW–1990 to 2008(a)(b)

Carbon dioxide (CO2) accounted for nearly three-quarters (70%) of net greenhouse gas emissions in 2008 (excluding emissions from LULUCF) while methane (CH4) contributed nearly one-quarter (24%). Between 1990 and 2008 carbon dioxide emissions (excluding emissions from LULUCF) increased by 26% while methane emissions declined by 17%.


ENERGY CONSUMPTION

Energy significantly contributes to all sectors of the economy, including supplying power to households and industry.

Between 2003–04 and 2008–09, total energy consumption in NSW and the ACT increased by 3.6%. The overall increase was due to increased energy consumption by several sectors including Construction (up 15%), Residential (up 15%), Electricity generation (up 12%), Transport (up 9.8%), Mining (up 7.6%) and Commercial (up 7.6%). Conversely, sectors such as Manufacturing and Agriculture recorded decreases in energy consumption during the period (down 16% and 2.8% respectively).


CHANGE IN ENERGY CONSUMPTION, By sector, NSW and ACT–2003–04 to 2008–09

CHANGE IN ENERGY CONSUMPTION, By sector, NSW and ACT–2003–04 to 2008–09

Most energy consumed in NSW in 2008–09 comes from non-renewable fossil fuels, the main sources being black coal (52%) and petroleum products (36%). Between 2003–04 and 2008–09, there was a three-fold increase in the energy consumption fuelled by solar energy (317%) however it was from a very low base (0.6 petajoules in 2003–04) and in 2008–09 solar energy still only contributed 0.2% of total NSW energy consumption.

ENERGY CONSUMPTION, By fuel type, NSW and ACT–2003–04 and 2008–09

ENERGY CONSUMPTION, By fuel type, NSW and ACT–2003–04 and 2008–09

Data cubes with detailed statistics are available on the Downloads page.

DATA SOURCES


Agricultural Commodities, Australia (cat. no. 7121.0)

Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE), Australian Energy National and State Projections to 2029-30

Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics – Bureau of Rural Sciences, Australian energy statistics - Australian energy update 2010 - Australian energy production, consumption and trade, 1973-74 to 2008-09

Australian Bureau of Meteorology <http://www.bom.gov.au>

Australian Government Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, State Greenhouse Gas Inventory

Environmental Issues: Energy Use and Conservation (cat. no. 4602.0.55.001)

Environmental Issues: People's Views and Practices, Mar 2006 (cat. no. 4602.0)

Environmental Issues: People's Views and Practices, Mar 2007 (cat. no. 4602.0)

Environmental Issues: Water use and Conservation, Mar 2010 (cat. no. 4602.0.55.003)

Environmental Views and Behaviour (cat. no. 4626.0.55.001)

Land Management and Farming in Australia (cat. no. 4627.0)

National Forest Inventory, Australia's State of the Forests Report, 2008, Bureau of Rural Sciences, Canberra

National Forest Inventory, National Plantation Inventory, Bureau of Rural Sciences, Canberra 2001-2008

Natural Resource Management on Australian Farms (cat. no. 4620.0)

NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water <http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au>

Schedules 1, 1A & 2: Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 No. 101, and Schedules 4, 4A & 5: Fisheries Management Act 1994 No. 38

Water Account, Australia, 2004-05 (cat. no. 4610.0)

Water Account, Australia, 2008-09 (cat. no. 4610.0)

Water Use on Australian Farms (cat. no. 4618.0)


OTHER RELATED INFORMATION


NSW State of the Environment Report

NSW State Plan

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