Snapshot into the nation's water usage and supply

Forty per cent of total water consumed in Australia in 2016/17 was guzzled by NSW.
Forty per cent of total water consumed in Australia in 2016/17 was guzzled by NSW.

In a time where water has been in critically short supply, the latest figures have shown NSW to be the biggest guzzler amongst Australia's states and territories.

The latest Water Account was released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday, providing a snapshot into the nation's water usage and supply.

Australia as a whole was found to have consumed 32 Sydney Harbour's worth of water in the 2016-2017 year, with 40 per cent of that water drained up by NSW, according to the report.

The state's water consumption increased 27 per cent on the previous year, driven primarily by an increase in the water consumption of the local agriculture industry which accounted for 4600 gigalitres.

Agriculture was the biggest user of water for the nation as a whole, consuming 62 per cent (10,034 gigalitres) of Australia's water use, followed by households which used 12 per cent (1909 gigalitres).

"To put those quantities into some proportion, one gigalitre is equal to one billion litres of water and it would take 500 gigalitres to fill the Sydney Harbour," ABS centre of environmental and satellite accounts director Jonathon Khoo explained in a statement.

Large increases in areas for cropping in both NSW and the Northern Territory as well as increased livestock counts allowing farmers to restock their depleted herds are believed to have contributed to the agriculture increase.

The eastern states proved to be the biggest water consumers as a whole with Queensland and Victoria accounting for 22 per cent (3639 gigalitres) and 19 per cent (3146 gigalitres) of Australia's water use respectively.

Despite making the top three both Queensland and Victoria actually recorded an overall decrease in their water consumption from the previous year.

An estimated 75,888 gigalitres of water was extracted from the environment to support the Australian economy during this time period, a two per cent increase on the previous year.

Australian Associated Press