How much water have we used?

How much surface water have we used? How much groundwater? Recycled water? Who were the biggest users of water?

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Water use that is not for the environment is described as water consumption, or ‘consumptive use’.

The total volume of surface water, groundwater, recycled water and desalinated water available in 2020–21 was 23,942 GL, 6,355 GL higher than the 17,587 GL available in 2019–20.

Of this, about 3,395 GL was taken for consumptive use in 2020–21, about 55 GL more than the 3,340 GL taken the previous year

There was 22,305 GL of surface water available in 2020–21, more than the amount available the previous year of 15,958 GL.

The volume of water taken for consumptive use under surface water entitlements in 2020–21 was 2,806 GL, more than the 2,704 GL taken in 2019–20.

Irrigation continues to be the largest consumptive use of surface water in the state, making up 75% of all water taken.

In 2020–21, total groundwater licensed entitlement was 948 GL across the state (the same as the previous year). The total groundwater use across the state including domestic and stock use was 377 GL, which was less than the volume used in 2019–20 (438 GL).

The total volume of 513 GL of wastewater produced in 2020–21 was more than the 511 GL produced in 2019–20. There was 87 GL of wastewater recycled in 2020–21, more than the volume recycled in the previous year (79 GL).

Water use in urban areas is usually measured by the metered volume of water delivered to customers – both households (residential use) and businesses (commercial use). While usage in 2020–21 was higher than the previous year (593 GL in 2020–21 compared to 574 GL in 2019–20), the proportions by type of user were very similar.

Desalinated water

Water produced by the Victorian Desalination Project is transferred into Cardinia Reservoir and combined with the water available for consumptive uses.

The total volume delivered for the year to 30 June 2021 was 125 GL, representing 6.9% of Melbourne’s storage capacity. This was the same as what was delivered in 2019–20.