Sustainable yields project — providing critical information on Australia's current and future water availability

Background

The Australian Government has commissioned the CSIRO to undertake assessments to provide robust estimates of current and future water yield in several regions of Australia. The results of these assessments will provide the science to help underpin the sustainable planning and management of water resources.

The first such project conducted by CSIRO was in the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB).

In March 2008, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to extend this assessment to three other areas — Northern Australia, Tasmania and south west Western Australia.

When these new assessments are complete, Australia will have a comprehensive scientific assessment of water yields in most of its major water systems, providing a consistent analytical framework for national water policy decisions.

Murray-Darling Basin Sustainable Yields project

The MDB assessment commenced in 2007 and has since produced a series of reports examining the likely water yield of surface and groundwater catchments in the MDB based on current and future climate and possible development changes.

The Murray-Darling Basin Sustainable Yields project was the first water resource assessment of its scale in the world and is informing farmers, communities, water providers and decision-makers of the overall impact of water resource development and climate change on the MDB's water.

Wetlands near Darwin, NT. Source CSIRO

Wetlands near Darwin, Northern Territory

Source CSIRO

Northern Australia Sustainable Yields project

The Northern Australia Sustainable Yields (NASY) project provides the science to underpin the sustainable planning and management of the region's water resources.

From Broome in Western Australia to Cairns in Queensland, the NASY project investigated water resources on a catchment-by-catchment basis across northern Australia using four different climate and development scenarios.

The project provides the first consistent, robust and transparent assessment of current and likely future water availability across three jurisdictions of northern Australia, including an assessment of possible future climate implications.

This information will help governments, industry and communities consider the environmental, social and economic aspects of the sustainable use and management of water resources of the Northern Australia.

The reports of the NASY project, which examine the current and likely future water availability in Northern Australia, were released in September 2009. To download the reports visit:

See also:

Mount Roland, Tasmania

Mount Roland, Tasmania

Source CSIRO

Tasmania Sustainable Yields project

The Tasmania Sustainable Yields (TasSY) project looked at current yields and future water yields having regard to climate change, the development of irrigation under the Tasmanian Government's Drought-proofing Tasmania plan, and other water interception activities such as forestry and changes in groundwater.

The project assessed water resources on a catchment-by-catchment basis using four climate scenarios. Five reporting regions were covered, excluding most of the west coast where the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area is found.

The information will help government, industry and communities in considering the environmental, social and economic aspects of the sustainable use and management of Tasmania's water resources.

Reports of the project were released in January 2010. To download the reports visit:

Dunham, Western Australia

Mundaring Dam, Western Australia

Source CSIRO

South-west Western Australia Sustainable Yields project

The South-west Western Australia Sustainable Yields (SWSY) project modelled current water yield and future water yields having regard to climate change, water resource development and other risks. It had a particular focus on irrigated areas because of the importance of water to those areas and the potential significance of climate change.

The project assessed water resources on an individual catchment and aquifer basis using four different climate and development scenarios. The project area extended from Geraldton in the north to Albany on the south coast.

The findings and information will provide critical input to sustainable water use, planning and management decisions in south-west Western Australia.

The report was released in March 2010. To download the report visit:

More information

Extending the CSIRO Murray-Darling Basin sustainable yields project beyond the Basin project sheet (PDF - 17.24 KB)  | (RTF - 32.27 KB)