​Media Release

Growing cities no drain on water supplies

15 March 2018

  • Water use in metro cities held steady in 2016-17 despite strong population growth
  • Higher rainfall saw a 15% increase in available surface water
  • Both Adelaide and Melbourne sourced more of their water locally
  • Desalination made up more than half of water supply in Perth

Australian cities have kept their thirst for water under control in the past financial year with demand holding steady at 2,480 gigalitres, despite strong population growth.

​​Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, David Littleproud, said the Urban Regional Water Account for 2016-17 showed work to save household and industrial water was paying off.

"Cities like Melbourne and Sydney have had some of the strongest population growth they've ever seen, but demand for water in urban areas hasn't increased," Minister Littleproud said.

"Rain in the right places also took pressure off water providers with a 15 per cent increase in surface water available for our cities.

"Rainfall was well above average in Adelaide which boosted reserves and cut the amount of water the city had to take from the Murray River.

"Melbourne had its highest annual rainfall in five years while desalination came on line taking substantial pressure off the Thomson Reservoir.

"Perth also had a good season with its highest rainfall in three years topping up local aquifer and surface water storage, while desalinated water was used for more than half of urban supply.

"Sydney had a drier year than most but stored water was topped up by heavy rainfall across the region in March 2017."

The urban region water accounts released today are part of the National Water Account. The 2017 National Water Account, covering the 2016-17 year, is the eighth in the annual series.

"These accounts keep track of our critical water supplies and how they're being used, so governments and industries can make sure taps keep running," Minister Littleproud said.

The National Water Account covers about 75 per cent of Australia's population and 80 per cent of the country's water use. It is prepared by the Bureau of Meteorology in partnership with more than 40 organisations, including state and territory governments and agencies and water utilities.

To see the information released today, go to: http://www.bom.gov.au/water/nwa/2017/.