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4618.0 - Water Use on Australian Farms, 2012-13 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 30/05/2014   
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30 May 2014
Embargoed: 11.30 am (Canberra time)

A third more water used on Australian farms

There was an increase of 32 per cent in the volume of water used for agriculture in 2012-13, according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today.

Ms Cherie Poulton, Director of Agriculture Statistics said the increase was due to a rise in water allocations in many areas. "Australian farms have increased their water use to 11.9 million megalitres - enough to fill Sydney Harbour 24 times.

"New South Wales was the biggest user of water for agriculture with 5.2 million megalitres (or 44 per cent of Australia's agricultural water use), followed by Queensland and Victoria using 2.6 million megalitres each", said Ms Poulton.

The majority of Australia's agricultural water use (93 per cent) was for irrigation. Around three quarters of this irrigation occurred in the Murray-Darling Basin. Water used for irrigation in the Murray-Darling Basin rose by 41 per cent over the 2011-12 period to 8.3 million megalitres in 2012-13.

"Irrigation channels are the source of most (or 43 percent) of Australia's farm water.

"Nationally, the volume taken from irrigation channels rose by 50 per cent to 5.1 million megalitres in 2012-13, with New South Wales showing the largest increase of 816 thousand megalitres (up 47 per cent), followed by Victoria with an increase of 665 thousand megalitres (or 67 per cent).

"In percentage terms South Australia saw the biggest increase, with water taken from irrigation channels up 143 per cent (or 72.9 thousand megalitres) on the previous year, " said Ms Poulton.

More details are available in Water Use on Australian Farms (cat. no. 4618.0) available at

Change in Irrigation Use
Irrigation Use
Change in Total Water Use
Total Water Use

Up 41%
5.0 million
Up 39%
5.2 million
Up 49%
2.4 million
Up 44%
2.6 million
Up 25%
2.4 million
Up 24%
2.6 million
Up 17%
Up 17%
Down 3%
Down 4%
Up 30%
Up 25%
Down 20%
Down 13%
Down 39%
Up 2%
Up 35%
11.1 million
Up 32%
11.9 million
Murray-Darling Basin
Up 41%
8.3 million
Up 39%
8.6 million

Media note:
When reporting ABS data, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or ABS) must be attributed as the source.

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