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Publications archive - Ecologically Sustainable Development

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Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Are We Sustaining Australia? Report Against Headline Sustainabilty Indicators

Environment Australia, 2002
ISBN 0 642 54771 8


Value 8: Management of Natural Resources: Water

Rationale for inclusion of issue

Water is a critical limiting factor for much of the Australian environment and economy. The efficient management of water resources is essential to individual and community well-being, and to the protection of biodiversity and ecological systems.

Indicator 10

(i)Proportion of surface water management areas with diversions within 70% of sustainable yield at 2000

74%

(ii)Proportion of ground water management units with abstractions within 70% of sustainable yield at 2000

60%

Source: National Land and Water Resources Audit, Australian Water Resources Assessment, 2000

Rationale for selection of indicators

This indicator is derived from a project undertaken by the National Land and Water Resources Audit (NLWRA), which is based on assessment at the catchment scale, including groundwater. The NLWRA project includes consideration of a range of water resource uses and objectives (ie environmental, economic and human requirements) in broadly assessing sustainability.

The project has assessed management areas and management units as either:

The indicator used in this case reports those areas or units where diversions or abstractions are assessed as either low or moderate, ie between 0% and 70% of sustainable flow or yield.

Explanatory and elaborative information

To provide information relevant for regionally based natural resource management, surface water resources have been divided into management areas and groundwater resources into groundwater management units. The detailed requirements for surface water management have meant that natural resource agencies have defined 325 surface water management areas for this assessment. These are based on 246 river basins for Australia.

Groundwater systems may spatially overlay and interact with each other and reflect the various geological settings of the Australian landscape. Some 538 groundwater management units have been defined as part of this assessment.

The indicator shows that while the majority of water management areas/units (74% of Australia's river basins and 60% of groundwater management units) have water diversions/extractions within 70% of sustainable yield, a substantial minority (26% of river basins and 40% of groundwater management units) do not. Additionally, 55% of total surface water use within Australia is from catchments where water diversions are more than 70% of sustainable yield.

Most of the groundwater management areas where water use is above 70% of sustainable yield are in Queensland and South Australia. Most of the surface water management areas that are above 70% of sustainable yield are in the Murray Darling Basin.

Surface Water

 

Number of surface water management areas

Proportion of total number of surface water management areas

Low development: less than 30% of nominated sustainable flow regime

195

60

Moderate development: between 30% and 70% of nominated sustainable flow regime

46

14

Highly developed: between 70% and 100% of nominated sustainable flow regime

50

15

Overdeveloped: more than 100% of nominated sustainable flow regime

34

11

Source: National Land and Water Resources Audit, Australian Water Resources Assessment, 2000

Ground Water

 

Number of groundwater management units

Proportion of total number of groundwater management units

Low development: less than 30% of nominated sustainable yield

274

51

Moderate development: between 30% and 70% of nominated sustainable yield

81

15

Highly developed: between 70% and 100% of nominated sustainable yield

104

19

Overdeveloped: more than 100% of nominated sustainable yield

57

11

Not recorded

22

4

Source: National Land and Water Resources Audit, Australian Water Resources Assessment, 2000

Supplementary indicators