Media statement: National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program

Serious and organised crime groups continue to profit from the business of drugs that cause harm to the Australian community. Wastewater analysis is an important measure of the demand for a range of illicit drugs and licit drugs with abuse potential and their consumption is a key indicator of the level of harm experienced by the community. Insights from the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program improve our collective understanding of external factors that affect consumption and the resilience of the respective drug markets. Report 17 is available on the ACIC website.

The ACIC’s wastewater analysis and data holdings illustrate that law enforcement is seizing a high proportion of illicit drugs. Serious and organised crime groups are resilient and will find ways to continually re-supply drug markets, no matter the quantity of illicit drugs that are detected and seized.

15.7 tonnes of methylamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and MDMA were consumed in Australia during the year to August 2021. Despite this, ACIC comparisons of law enforcement seizure data from the Illicit Drug Data Report and wastewater consumption data have shown that law enforcement is seizing a higher proportion of illicit drugs than previously thought.

ACIC analysis has found that law enforcement interventions disrupt supply for between 2 and 6 months in the case of large seizures, creating windows of opportunity in which efforts to reduce user demand may be more likely to succeed.