FUTURE water use for livestock purposes in the Great Artesian Basin is expected to increase in efficiency as free-flowing bores are progressively capped and bore drains are replaced with pipes and troughs, a new report has found.
The Australian Government today released a report examining the significant economic value generated by Great Artesian Basin (GAB) water resources.
The report estimated that water from the Basin underpins at least $12.8 billion in economic activity annually. This included $4.7 billion in value generated from livestock production, with over 14 million beef cattle for meat production and over 11 million sheep and lambs in GAB regions.
In addition, the value of irrigated agriculture that uses GAB water is estimated to be greater than $60 million.
The report said that efficient water consumption (inclusive of losses) by livestock did not mean reduced industry output.
“In fact, production could be maintained or increased since improved infrastructure reduces losses and provides water in a more controlled way that aids farm management.”
The report said a 1992 economic appraisal of water conservation options in the basin noted the value of water quality to livestock productivity and the ability to more effectively control undesirable animal pests and weeds.
“This more efficient management of GAB water will still support the economic outcomes of stock and domestic water use while using less of the GAB resource.”
The report said increasing use of metering should contribute to improved resource use information.
The report was commissioned by the Australian Government and GAB jurisdictions based on advice from the Great Artesian Basin Coordinating Committee, was prepared by Frontier Economics and looked at the economic activity of industries reliant on Great Artesian Basin water resources.
The report also identified new or increased water demand from new or expanding industries as a key challenge in effective long-term management of the GAB water resources.
The report will be used to inform the development of a new Great Artesian Basin Strategic Management Plan to help guide the future management of this vital resource. It will also support the development of policies and programmes, and infrastructure investment, to support better management of Australia’s water resources.
The full report is available on the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website at agriculture.gov.au/water/national/great-artesian-basin/economic-output-groundwater-dependent-sectors-great-artesian-basin.
More information on the Great Artesian Basin Strategic Management Plan is available at agriculture.gov.au/water/national/great-artesian-basin/strategic-management-plan.
Source: Department of Agriculture and Water Resources