The National Water Commission recently released Australia's first ever nation-wide baseline assessment of water interception activities, calling for all Australian governments to take action on this critical issue.
The Surface and/or groundwater interception activities: initial estimates report shows that the total volume of water unaccounted for as a result of land use activities outside our current water entitlement regimes and planning frameworks equates to almost one quarter of all the entitled water on issue in Australia.
A combined annual volume of 5600 gigalitres is intercepted, with forestry plantations using approximately 2000 gigalitres a year (GL/yr), farm dams 1600 GL/yr, stock and domestic activities 1100 GL/yr, and overland flows (floodplain harvesting) on average 900 GL/yr.
According to National Water Commission CEO Ken Matthews:
These are clearly significant uses of water which need to be brought within the water planning and management fold, both to manage current activities and guide future growth.
In agreeing to the National Water Initiative (NWI), all Australian Governments recognised that interception activities present an immediate risk to the security of water access entitlements and the achievement of environmental water objectives.
Under the NWI, governments committed to apply appropriate planning, management and regulatory measures to account for interception water use by 2011.
The report and/or its executive summary may be downloaded from here.