Aussies using less water but paying more

By AAP with AG Staff 1 December 2010
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Over the last four years, Australians have reduced their water use by a quarter, but they’re now paying twice as much for it.

AUSTRALIANS ARE USING LESS water than four years ago, but are now paying almost double for it, according to the latest data.

The average price of water has risen from 40 cents per kilolitre (1000 litres) in 2004-2005, but has since almost gone up by almost double to 78 cents in 2008 to 2009. And it is householders who seem to be paying the most: about $1.93 per kilolitre compared to just 12 cents for those in the agriculture industry.

The latest Water Account Australia was released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on Monday and gives a snapshot into the nation’s water usage and supply.

Critical issue

It found Australia reduced its overall water consumption from 14,101 gigalitres in 2008 to 2009, which was a 25 per cent drop from four years when we used 18,767 gigalitres. Home owners have done their bit, reducing consumption down to 1768 gigalitres, down 16 per cent from 2004 to 2005.

Agriculture – the biggest user of water – has also massively decreased usage, cutting down by almost a third to just 6996 gigalitres, compared to 12,191 four years ago.

The findings will ultimately help the government make decisions about how best to manage our water, Australian statistician Brian Pink said in a statement. “Water is a critical issue for Australia. The Water Account Australia is an example of the contribution the ABS can make to public policy and in collaboration with others; we are hoping to do more environmental accounting in future years.”

Using recycled water was down from 2004 to 2005, but that was mostly attributed to a general drop in rainfall and drainage water collection. The mining industry recorded the biggest jump in water usage, up by 23 per cent to 508 gigalitres in 2008/09.