Governance of Water in Australia
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Governance of Water in Australia Regional Workshop on Water Accounting Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 16-18 July 2007. Michael Vardon United Nations Statistics Division. Overview of Presentation. What are the main issues for water? Policy – The National Water Initiative

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Michael Vardon United Nations Statistics Division

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Michael vardon united nations statistics division

Governance of Water in AustraliaRegional Workshop on Water Accounting Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic16-18 July 2007

Michael Vardon

United Nations Statistics Division


Overview of presentation

Overview of Presentation

  • What are the main issues for water?

  • Policy – The National Water Initiative

  • Institutional set up

  • Information sources

    • ABS Water accounts and statistics

    • Australian Water Resource Assessment


Main questions

Main Questions

  • How much water is there?

    • Now and what can we expect in the future

  • How much water is used?

    • What is water use?

    • Is this use sustainable?

  • What are the benefits and costs of water use?

    • Now/later

    • Here/there

    • Public/private

  • What is the best way to allocate/manage water?


Water availability in australia

Water Availability in Australia

Mean annual runoff 387,000 GL

Drought in Australia

70 % Agricultural production

50 % of population


Intergovernmental agreement on a national water initiative nwi

INTERGOVERNMENTAL AGREEMENT ON A NATIONAL WATER INITIATIVE – NWI

  • June 2004

  • Agreement between the Commonwealth of Australia and all of the state/territory governments – i.e. New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory


Paragraph one of nwi

Paragraph one of NWI

1. Water may be viewed as part of Australia’s natural capital, serving a number of important productive, environmental and social objectives. Australia’s water resources are highly variable, reflecting the range of climatic conditions and terrain nationally. In addition, the level of development in Australia’s water resources ranges from heavily regulated working rivers and groundwater resources, through to rivers and aquifers in almost pristine condition.


Paragraph two of nwi

Paragraph two of NWI

2. In Australia, water is vested in governments that allow other parties to access and use water for a variety of purposes – whether irrigation, industrial use, mining, servicing rural and urban communities, or for amenity values. Decisions about water management involve balancing sets of economic, environmental and other interests. . . . . . . .


Nwi and water accounts

NWI and water accounts

  • The NWI calls for the compilation of annual water accounts.

  • The exact nature of the accounts is still being determined (there is an Expert Advisory Group on Water Accounting – the EAP)

  • The ABS water accounts appear consistent with those envisage by the NWI

  • A seminar jointly held by the National Water Commission and ABS determined that water accounts should:

    • Should support the NWI

    • Not unnecessarily depart from international standards


Institutional involved in water management and information

Institutional involved in water management and information

  • Australian Government agencies

  • States and Territory Governments agencies

  • Councils and committees

  • Water Industry


Australian government agencies

Australian government agencies

  • Department of Environment and Water Resources

    • National Water Commission

    • Bureau of Meteorology

  • Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries

    • Bureau of Rural Sciences

  • Common Scientific Industrial Research Organization

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics


Minister for environment and water resources

Minister for Environment and Water Resources

The Australian Government Department of the Environment and Water Resources has responsibility for implementing the following key water initiatives:

  • National Plan for Water Security ($10 billion, 10 point plan to improve water efficiency and address over-allocation of water in rural Australia)

  • A National Plan for Water Security - questions and answers

  • National Water Initiative  (the blueprint for Australia's water reform)

  • The Department also develops and implements Australian Government policy, programmes and legislation to assist in the sustainable management of the Murray-Darling Basin and our rivers, groundwater, wetlands and urban water. Other specific responsibilities include:

  • National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality 

  • Natural Heritage Trust 

  • Community Water Grants 

  • Coastal Catchments Initiative

  • Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) Scheme 

  • National Climate Change Adaptation Programme 

  • Commonwealth Environment Research Facility

  • Alligator Rivers Region protection and monitoring

  • National Framework for Chemicals and Environmental Management


National water commission

National Water Commission

  • The National Water Commission is an independent statutory body in the Environment and Water Resources portfolio. Its role is to drive the national water reform agenda. Established under the National Water Commission Act 2004, the Commission provides advice to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) and the Australian Government on national water issues.


Water commissioners role

Water Commissioners - Role

The role of the Commissioners is to:

  • provide guidance on the strategic policy framework for the National Water Commission.

  • provide guidance on major reports or advice to Council Of Australian Government or governments.

  • promote the National Water Commission and the National Water Initiative externally, including speaking for the Commission as agreed within the Commission.

  • champion certain aspects of National Water Initiative reforms as agreed with the Commission.

  • monitor the quality of corporate governance within the Commission .

  • review the performance of the Commission.


Seven commissioners

Seven Commissioners

  • Mr Ken Matthews, Professor Peter Cullen, Mr David Trebeck, Mr Peter Corish, Ms Chloe Munro, Dr John Radcliffe and Dr Wally Cox.

  • Each Commissioner has been selected for the contribution they can make as individuals to the work of the National Water Commission. Commissioners do not represent any particular group or sector. All Commissioners are required to act in the best interests of the National Water Commission.


State and territory government

State and Territory Government

6 States and 2 Territory Governments

  • Each with water management, environmental and agricultural agencies

  • Most with catchment management authorities


Committee and councils

Committee and councils

Council of Australian Governments (CoAG)

  • Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council

    • National Land and Water Resources Audit Advisory Council (AAC)

    • Executive Steering Committee on Australian Water Resource Information (ESCAWRI)

    • Baseline Water Resource Assessment Steering Committee

    • Expert Advisory Panel on Water Accounting (EAP)


Water industry

Water Industry

  • 501 Water supply or sewerage providers

  • Australian National Committee on Irrigation and Drainage (ANCID)

  • Australian Water Association (AWA)

  • Water Supply Association of Australia (WSAA)


Australian history of water resource assessment

Australian History of Water Resource Assessment

  • 1963 Review of Australia’s Water Resources (AWRC 1965)

  • 1975 Review of Australia’s Water Resources (AWRC 1977)

  • 1977 The First National Survey of Water Use in Australia (DNDE 1981)

  • 1985 Review of Australia’s Water Resources and Water Use (AWRC 1987)

  • 1995-96 Water in the Australian Economy (AATSE 1999)

  • 1993-94 to 1996-97 Water Account, Australia (ABS 2000)

  • 2000 Australian Water Resource Assessment (NLWRA 2001)

  • 2000-01 Water Account, Australia (ABS 2004)

  • 2004-05 Water Account, Australia (ABS and NWC 2006)

  • 2005 Australian Water Resources (NWC 2007, to come)


Abs water statistics program

ABS Water Statistics Program

Guided by ABS Water Statistics User Group

Main program outputs:

  • Water Account, Australia (4-yearly, may be biennial)

  • Water Use on Australian Farms (Annual)

  • Water Supply, Australia (Proposed new annual publication)

  • Water Storage, Australia (Proposed new annual publication)

  • Survey design and collection

    All products freely available from the ABS website www.abs.gov.au


Abs water statistics program continued

ABS Water Statistics Program continued

Other outputs

  • Research papers

    - Experimental Estimates of Regional Agricultural Water Use

    - Experimental Monetary Water Accounts for Australia, 2003-04

  • Regional water use accounts for 2004-05

  • Investigating production of water emission and quality accounts

  • Collaborative projects E.g. Productivity Commission

    - Characteristics of Australia’s Agricultural Water Users

  • National Water Commission


Baseline water resource assessment

Baseline Water Resource Assessment

  • NWC baseline assessment of Australian Water Resources 2005

    • Joint project involving the ABS, Bureau of Resource Science, CSIRO, National Land and Water Resources Audit, SKM (consulting company)

    • ABS Water Accounts were integral to the assessment

    • Final assessment due out soon . . . .


Water account australia

Water Account, Australia

  • 3 editions

  • Latest release November 2006

  • Covers

    • water supply and use

    • water storage

    • Allocations and trading

  • Data for Australia and for each of the Australian states and territories

  • Previous editions released in 2000 and 2004


Water accounting model

Water accounting model


Water use in australia 2004 05

Water use in Australia, 2004-05

Total water extracted – 79,784 GL

Water returned (almost all for hydro-electricity) – 60,436 GL

Water consumption – 18,767 GL

  • 65% by agriculture

  • 11% by households

  • 11% by water supply industry (includes system losses)

  • 3% by manufacturing

  • 2% by mining

  • 1% by electricity and gas industry

  • 7% by all others


Contact details

Contact details

Michael Vardon

Adviser on Environmental-Economic Accounting

United Nations Statistics Division

New York 10017 USA

Room DC2 1532

Phone: +1 917 367 5391

Fax: +1 917 363 1374

Email: [email protected]


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