This report argues that Australia has a need for greater water use efficiency and the identification and utilisation of alternative water resources to avoid potential conflict between users.
Australia is one of the highest per capita water consumers in the world. Understanding the way that a country uses its available resources and where demand is likely to rise is important when assessing the long-term likelihood of a supply-demand gap. In Australia, growing urban populations, economic growth led by industry expansion and a goal of increasing agricultural production, will all contribute to rising water demand to 2050. Most basins in the country, however, have reached their allocation limits. Users will increasingly compete for water allocations and trade-offs will be necessary. There is a need for greater water use efficiency and the identification and utilisation of alternative water resources to avoid potential conflict between users.
- Water use in Australia has led to the full allocation of much of its available surface water.
- The agriculture sector is the largest water consumer, accounting for just over half of all water consumed in Australia.
- Population growth and industry expansion will require greater water access in the future. This will likely lead to trade-offs between water users and increased competition for limited water resources.
- Groundwater, in particular, requires greater management and regulation to ensure more equitable and environmentally sustainable water use.
- To meet future water demand alternative water resources will be required. This includes increased water recycling, desalination, groundwater extraction and demand-side management.