Water in Australia

As the driest inhabited continent in the world, Australia has unique challenges and opportunities when it comes to water.

Water is one of our most important resources and we must make sure it is sustainable, reliable, and resilient to drought and a changing climate.

Australia has a strong record of water management and investment. This is supported by a national and collaborative approach through the National Water Grid Fund (NWGF).

Together with states and territory governments, we are working to ensure we have clean and reliable water for all Australians.

Caring for the environment

The NWGF supports responsible investment decisions that promote nature positive outcomes, such as supporting biodiversity, helping to restore natural ecosystems and the development of sustainable construction that minimises negative impacts on the environment.

There are many innovations taking place across our range of projects which contribute to nature positive outcomes. These include:

  • design elements that focus on carbon and energy savings
  • reductions in extracted earth from construction sites
  • reducing the amount of cement required for infrastructure projects
  • innovations that will help wildlife safely navigate our water ways (e.g. fish ladders and turtle passages).

Our projects also help farmers access a more constant supply of water, which eases the pressure on our natural surface and ground water systems. This allows ecosystems that rely on these systems to flourish.

Supporting regional Australia

Effective water infrastructure underpins the livelihoods of regional Australia and supports and sustains communities around the nation. It helps to grow the food, livestock and crops essential to our everyday living. It also generates jobs and injects billions of dollars into regions and the broader Australian economy each year.

The NWGF plays an important role in supporting regional Australia through funding projects to increase water security, improve water efficiency and help build greater long term resilience to droughts and water scarcity.

Through our Science Program and regional analysis work, we identify priority water resource areas and new and emerging technology to ensure water infrastructure investment decisions are based on the best available evidence, connect future water needs with future water availability, and drive long term benefits for local farmers and communities.

Australia’s water challenges

Australia’s variable rainfall, streamflow and landscape conditions create water supply challenges. This, along with the demands of agriculture and growing urban populations, and climate change means we face frequent water challenges.

Drought, heat and increasing extreme weather events have an impact on all of us. These are felt hard by our regional and remote communities.

Setbacks to agricultural production due to water supply issues can affect many areas of a community and its economy.

There are First Nations and remote communities who still need access to clean and reliable drinking water. Ensuring these communities have access to essential water is a priority for the Australian Government.

Water opportunities in Australia

There is no on-size-fits-all solution to increasing Australia’s water security but there are opportunities to develop unique and more effective solutions for how water is managed and accessed in Australia.

Opportunities are presented through:

  • natural means such as Australia’s complex surface and groundwater resources
  • investing in options to use the water we have more efficiently
  • developing new local water supply sources – particularly those that rely less on rainfall, such as recycled water, desalinated water and greywater
  • providing essential town water infrastructure to support to First Nations and remote communities to improve water quality and supply
  • working with states and territories to deliver a national water infrastructure approach that recognises each region’s natural environment, climate, geography, and existing water infrastructure and source
  • a sound Science Program to secure our water supply into the future and ensure investment decisions are evidence-based
  • drawing on the knowledge of our First Nations communities to help inform our water projects.

Water and cultural values

The cultural and spiritual values of water are important for First Nations culture and identity. Improved water security and reliability is also linked to First Nations water interests and has the potential to support First Nations economic development opportunities. First Nations land interests and associated First Nations water interests are an important consideration for water infrastructure opportunities in Australia.

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Understanding Australia’s climate

The Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology’s rainfall deficiencies and water availability page provides information about monthly rainfall and the availability of water across Australia.

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Understanding drought

The Australian Government’s drought map provides a range of information on drought conditions and associated support measures in one useful platform.

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Water storages

The Bureau of Meteorology’s Water Storage dashboard provides a snapshot of how much water is available over the entire country.

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