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Mapping Australia's water.

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Media Release The Hon Dr Sharman Stone Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage Federal Member for Murray

11 June 2003

Mapping Australia's Water

Drought, flood, water restrictions, water recycling, water prices... how do these terms fit into the bigger picture of water resources and use in Australia? Why, for example, are many Australians experiencing water restrictions when Australia stores more water per person than any other country in the world? Why are the Murray and Snowy Rivers a shadow of their former selves? How much water do we actually have? And how much of that do we use?

The answers to these and many more questions are found on The Australian Water Map, launched today by the Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, who has Ministerial responsibility for the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology.

“It is most appropriate that the Australian Water Map be released in this the International Year of Freshwater (IYFW). The focus of the IYFW is on protecting and respecting our valuable water resources, as individuals, communities, countries and as a global family of concerned citizens. Freshwater issues are on everyone’s lips at the moment, particularly for many Australians who are still being impacted on by the recent drought conditions. It is a sign of the Australian spirit that these same community groups are being involved a wide variety of activities to highlight the value of our freshwater resources in the IYFW.”

Nigel Murphy, a Director of Earth Systems and Project Director for The Australian Water Map, sees the map as a great way to visualise essential water information from around Australia. At the launch of the map today Mr Murphy said:

“If we are able to make good water management decisions, economic, environmental and social, we need to be armed with information that is factual, easily accessible and crosses the normal disciplinary boundaries. This is what The Australian Water Map is all about.”

The Australian Water Map contains 58 charts and tables and over 400 spatial sites related to key water facts and figures. The poster sized map (130 x 90 cm), was produced by Earth Systems Pty Ltd, an Australian environmental research and consulting group based in Melbourne, with Principal Support from Natural Heritage Trust, Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology and the Australian Water Association (AWA), and Major Support from Water Services Association of Australia, Department of Sustainability and Environment (Victoria), Brisbane Water, Pratt Water and University of Central Queensland.

Mr Peter Robinson Victorian President of the Australian Water Association (AWA) says The Australian Water Map brings together water-related data from a wide selection of disciplines,

ranging from natural water resources and aquatic biodiversity to water use, storage and treatment.

The Map can be seen and purchased from

Contact: Andrew Cox, Dr Stone’s Office 0408 057 226 Catherine Oke or Georgia Garrard, Earth Systems 03 9205 9515


1. Australia the laminated map costs $A 67.50 (inclusive of GST and postage), unlaminated $A 41.50 (inclusive of GST and postage)

2. For more information call Catherine Oke or, or email

3. Spatial data on the map includes: Water History, Aquatic Biodiversity, extreme events, water phenomena, Ramsar Wetlands, water treatment, water recycling, wild rivers, coastal pollution, sewage outfalls, altered rivers, polluted rivers, water users, threatened species, introduced species, major water diversions, major water achievements and black spots.

4. Some examples of water-related statistics found on the map include the fact that nearly 90% of all rain that falls in Australia is lost through evaporation; that irrigation in the Murray-Darling Basin accounts for over 50% of all water used in Australia; and that Australia has a highly endemic (not found anywhere else in the world) freshwater biota. Did you also know that the Amazon River in Brazil discharges in one day the same amount of water as Australia’s biggest river, the Murray River, does in one year?

5. Many Australians may not be aware of the unique hydrological features of their continent. Two examples of the significance of Australia’s hydrology are the Finke River in central Australia, which is the oldest river in the world, and Cooper Creek and the Diamantina River - amongst the most variable rivers in the world.


Last Updated: Monday, 16-Jun-2003 14:02:53 EST

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