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The state of Australia’s water resources report released

The Chairman of the National Water Commission, Ken Matthews, and Commissioner Peter Cullen released the findings of the second stage of the baseline assessment of water resources for the National Water Initiative, Australian Water Resources 2005.

‘Australian Water Resources 2005 (AWR 2005) is a baseline measurement or snapshot of Australia’s national water resources during 2004–05, reflecting the state of our water resources at the start of the National Water Initiative,’ Mr Matthews said.

‘Detailed data on water availability, water use and river/wetland health were collected to establish the starting point to measure improvements in water management as a result of the National Water Initiative.

‘The project has been a collaborative exercise involving all states and territories and the National Water Commission.’

The level 1 assessment, released last October, delivered an initial assessment of water resource planning and management arrangements.

The level 2 assessment builds on level 1 and provides detailed data, analysis and discussion on the status of Australia’s water availability, water use and river and wetland health.

The level 2 report includes integrated surface water and groundwater balances for 51 priority water management areas, including all capital cities, comprehensive statistics on water use in the Australian economy in 2004–05 and a new national framework for assessing river and wetland health.

‘This report advances the ability of Australian governments to manage their water in a number of ways,’ Professor Cullen said.

‘The report shows there is a need for enhanced groundwater and surface water management and assessment, including further mapping and analysis of the extent of groundwater:surfacewater interaction.

‘The report recommends that Australian governments agree on a consistent approach to sustainable resource management, including coming to an agreed definition of sustainable yield.

‘It provides a new framework for the assessment of river and wetland health, tested successfully in Victoria and Tasmania, which can be applied to surface water management areas to deliver a national overview.”

The report also provides detailed specifications for the Australian Water Resources Information System (AWRIS) which will provide on-going access to annual bio-physical data and water management information for Australian surface water and groundwater management areas.

The full text and a brochure summarising these finding are available from the National Water Commission and at


Media release courtesy of National Water Commission


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