Water use & conservation

Students drinking water

Drinking tap water is a great way to stay hydrated.

Sydney has about 5 million people. This is expected to grow to 5.3 million by 2031.

All these people need water for drinking, cooking, washing, making products, growing food, fighting fires, keeping cool, watering gardens and recreation activities.

Water is a precious resource and we shouldn’t waste it. That’s why we have Water Wise Rules to help people conserve water.

Did you know that 70% of all the water used in Sydney is used at home?

Children washing a dog

We use water for washing and bathing - even pets!

How do you use water at home?

Boy brushes his teeth.

Brushing teeth uses water.

Think about all the ways you use water at home. You might use water for:

  • drinking and cooking
  • washing, bathing and keeping clean
  • garden watering
  • keeping cool and recreation activities.

How much water do you use?

On average, each person in Sydney uses about 295 litres of water a day.

There are two main ways to find out how much water your family uses.

  1. Read your water meter.
  2. Look at your water bill.

By monitoring these things over time, you can track how water wise your family is. Use our water efficiency targets to check how much water a water wise family uses.


Reading your water meter

Most homes have a water meter that shows how much water is being used. Some homes may also have a second purple meter for recycled water.

You can work out how much water you use in a day by looking at the meter one day and comparing it to the same time the next day. The difference in the meter reading is the amount of water used in a day.

By monitoring the meter when no one is using water, you can also work out if there are any leaks.

See How to read a water meter and find leaks.


Reading your bill

We send your family a water bill about every three months. This shows exactly how much water you used over the past three months and how much this costs your family.

See How to read a water bill.

How much do different appliances use?

What uses water in my home

Do you know what uses the most water?

Is it better to hand wash dishes or use the dishwasher?
Which uses more water, a bath or a shower?


Find out What uses water in my home?


Use the table to work out how much water your family uses doing everyday things like showering or washing up.

Water use in the home
Appliance/source Litres (L) used
Shower
Regular type
3 star rated showerhead
 

Almost 18 L a minute
9 L a minute
Bath
Average bath
 

58 L
Toilet
11 litre full flush
11 litre full flush (with cistern weight)
3 star rated duel flush
 

54 L a person a day
45 L a person a day
18 L a person a day
Hand basin
Running tap
 

up to 18 L a minute
Dishwashing
Washing by hand
Dishwashing machine (1980s model)
Dishwashing machine (1993 - 1996 model)
3 star rated machine (1998 or later)
 

Up to 18 L
40.5 L a load
27 L a cycle
18 L a cycle
Clothes washing
Average washing machine
4 1/2 - star rated washing machine
 

Almost 99 L a load
40.5 L a load
Garden
Filling a backyard pool
Sprinkler
 

Up to 54,000 L
999 L an hour
Car washing
Hose washing
Bucket washing
 

180 L a wash
  99 L a wash
Leaks (taps and pipes)
Dripping tap
Leaking pipe (1.5 mm hole)
 

27 - 198 L a day
99 L a day
Leaks (toilet cisterns)
Slow, barely visible
Leak visible in toilet pan
Visible, just audible
Quite visible, constant hiss
  
  9 L a day
  36 L a day
144 L a day
261 L a day

 

A girl waters the garden at school.

Do you water the plants at school?

Did you know that schools in greater Sydney use about 7,790 million litres of water a year? 

Water at school is used for things like:

  • drinking water from bubblers
  • preparing food in the canteen and kitchens
  • washing hands
  • watering the garden
  • flushing toilets.

How can your school do a water audit?

A school water audit is a way to find out:

  • how many water devices your school has
  • how efficient your school's water devices are 
  • which areas of the school might have problems, like taps that waste water by leaking or flowing too fast.


By doing a water audit, you'll find out how water efficient your school is. Learn how to do a School water audit.
 

Children check the flow rate of a tap at school.

Doing a water audit is a great way to find out if there are leaking taps at your school.

How much water does your school use?

There are two main ways to find out how much water your school uses:

  1. Read your meter
  2. Look at your water bill.

Monitor these things over time to work out how water wise your school is.


Reading your meter

Every school has a water meter that shows how much water is being used.

You can work out how much water your school uses in a day by looking at the meter one day and comparing it to the same time the next day. The difference in the meter reading is the amount of water being used in a day. By monitoring the meter when no one is using water (like overnight), you can also work out if there are any leaks.

Learn How to read a water meter and find leaks.


Reading your bill

About every three months, your school gets a water bill from Sydney Water. This shows exactly how much water was used and how much this costs your school.

Learn How to read a water bill. 

How can you be more water efficient?

Being careful with how much water we use helps makes sure there's enough for everybody.

Kitchens, bathrooms and laundries

Diagram of water saving tips for the bathroom.

The bathroom is a great place to start saving water.

  • Only turn the tap on as hard as you need.
  • Use the half flush button on your toilet instead of the full flush when you can. Using the half flush can save up to four buckets of water per day.
  • Put a plug in the sink rather than leave the water running.
  • Thaw frozen foods in the fridge rather than placing them under running water.
  • Turn off taps when you finish using them. 
  • Take shorter showers. Every minute less in the shower saves one bucket of water.
  • Consider installing water efficient appliances at home.
  • Wait for a full load of washing before turning on the washing machine. Every load less saves 17 buckets of water!
  • Report leaking taps, bubblers and toilets to an adult. A bubbler or tap dripping just one drop a second can waste 7,000 litres a year!

Gardens

Diagram of water saving tips for the garden.

Only use the water you need on your garden.

  • Use watering cans or trigger nozzles on hoses so that you water only those areas that need it.
  • Wash your car on the lawn so that you water and fertilise the grass at the same time. Car shampoos use phosphates that are similar to many fertilisers.
  • Always use a broom or rake rather than a hose to clean driveways and pathways.
  • Get mulching! Applying 7-10 cm of mulch around plants can save up to 70% of water lost through evaporation.
     
Learn more about what you can do to reduce water use using our water wise tips.

How much does water cost?

It costs money to make sure there's high quality, safe water every time you turn on the tap.

There's a lot to think about when setting prices for water and there's different prices for your home and businesses. You can learn more about how our prices are set.

Access to water services is essential to protect and improve the quality of life for our communities. Maintaining fair and equal access to water and wastewater services is something we take seriously in our role as corporate citizens.

We offer a range of options to help customers who have trouble paying their bills. Find out how we can provide help with your bill.

Water cost infographic

Over the past four years, we've improved customer satisfaction, created efficiencies and ensured bills remain as low as possible.


How does tap water compare to bottled water?

Did you know that Australians are buying more bottled water than ever before?

Although bottled water is much more expensive than tap water, it's not necessarily any better for us, or the environment.

Learn more about Tap water versus bottled water.

Water cost infographic2

Drinking tap water is the most cost effective way to stay hydrated - especially compared to bottled water.