New stats show WA’s dangerous thirst

Posted 12 December 2017

40 per cent of household water use is applied in the garden

Residents of WA may need to focus more readily on water-saving provisions, with the latest ABS Water Account 2015-16 revealing households in the state use as much as 122kL more than the average Australian home per year. 

WA’s average household usage jumped three per cent in 2015-16, reaching a staggering 327kL a year, compared to the national average of 205kL a year. 

While WA’s climate is drier than other states and territories, and NT’s usage is typically the highest in Australia due to climate (averaging 349kL a household in 2015-16), WA Water Minister Dave Kelly said the state “has become complacent” due to the availability of desalinated water.

“People think, ‘We’ve got a couple of desal plants, we don’t have a problem’. That’s far from the truth. We’re one of the places on the planet most impacted by climate change,” he told Perth Now.

The ABS Water Account 2015-16 also found that the average household use is 147kL in Tasmania, 166kL in Victoria, 194kL in NSW, 194kL in SA and 200kL in Queensland.

The data also analysed the price of water across the nation, finding WA households pay the least for water, at $2.51 per kL.

With the report identifying that 40 per cent of household water use is applied in the garden, Water Corporation has been issuing $100 fines to residents flouting sprinkler bans, with 4431 fines handed out this year – in comparison to 5866 fines issued the same time last year. 

Water Corporation CEO Sue Murphy recently argued that geographic considerations play a large role in WA’s water consumption and that compared to other areas of Australia, WA has done well to hover around the same level of consumption since the Millenium Drought. 

"It's outside the house that the difference comes in. That's largely because we have larger block sizes and fewer people living in apartments. We have beach sand in the ground instead of clay in our gardens,” Murphy said. 

"It is absolutely true that the people in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane use less water per capita than the people of Perth, but since the end of the Millennium Drought in 2010-11, water use in every one of those capital cities has gone up.”

Across Australia, water use increased slightly but still only made up 1899GL of total consumption, with agriculture consuming 9604GL and industries consuming 4629GL.

However, Australian industry is getting more efficient, with data showing that for every GL of water used, Australia produced $108 million of economic output – a 11 per cent increase in productivity on the year before.

Water extracted from the environment reached 76,544GL in 2015-16, with 65,238GL discharged back into the environment. 

Related articles:
Do Perth residents really have the highest water consumption rate?
Perth to keep water sources local