Water use & conservation

People walking in front of water fountain

Water is an important part of city life.

Sydney has over 4.8 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 and non-essential things like filling swimming pools.

We supply over 1.4 billion litres of water a day to homes and business in greater Sydney. Households use 70% of this water and businesses, industry and schools use the other 30%.

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

Water is a precious resource and we shouldn’t waste it. That’s why we have water use guidelines in Sydney to help people use water wisely. Learn more about our Water Wise Rules.

Trends in customers’ water use show that people have adopted water efficiency programs, with water use remaining at record lows since 2008.

We expect households to continue using water at the low levels of recent years. 

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

Water conservation in your home is an important part of our Government's strategy to reduce water use and save this valuable resource.

How much water do you use?

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.

Read 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.

Read How to read a water bill.

How much do different appliances use?

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

Use the table to work out how much water your family uses everyday 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



Learn what you can do to reduce water use at home using our water wise tips.

School students

Students can learn a lot about the value of water conservation.

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

Water is used for things like:

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

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.

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 water efficient is your school?

Once you know how much water your school uses, you can work out how efficient it is.

Follow these easy steps:

1. Add up how much water your school used in a year used by checking the last four water bills.
2. Divide this number by 365 to find out how much your school uses in a day.
3. Divide this number by the number of students in your school to find out how much water each student uses in a day.
4. Compare this number to the table below to see how water efficient your school is.

Water efficiency for primary schools
Water use (Litres per student a day Rating
Less than 3 Very low water use
3 - 9 Normal water use
10 -18 Medium water use
19 - 49 High water use
More than 50 Extremely high water use


You can help your school to be water efficient by:

  • not turning the tap on too hard
  • using the half flush button on your toilet instead of the full flush when you can
  • turning off taps when you finish using them
  • reporting leaking taps, bubblers and toilets to a teacher. A bubbler or tap dripping just one drop a second can waste 7,000 litres a year.

What we do

Every day, we protect the health of our community by:

  • providing safe and refreshing drinking water
  • removing wastewater
  • protecting our rivers and beaches.

We provide these high quality services cost-effectively and at the right price.

How our prices are set

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) sets the prices we charge our customers. Find out more about Our prices or read Prices for customers 2016–2020.

We're committed to:

  • reducing customer bills, while still delivering high quality services
  • investing in critical infrastructure
  • securing water supplies
  • protecting our natural environment.


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

What we spend money on

The Australian water industry is highly controlled through regulations that require high standards of service delivery. This helps ensure water services protect both public health and the environment.

IPART sets out how much we should spend on operations and capital costs.

The prices we charge for our water services are worked out based on the cost of:

  • service delivery 
  • building, maintaining and replacing the large network needed to provide safe and reliable water services
  • new services to provide for growth.


Read our Annual Report to find out how much it costs to run a water utility.

How we provide equal access to water

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. To learn more go to helping with your bill.


Some developing countries have limited access to clean drinking water and sanitation standards are low. This causes sickness through the spread of disease. 

Poor health in the community can lead to low life expectancy, the spread of preventable diseases and low living standards.

We're a proud supporter of WaterAid. We share WaterAid’s vision that everyone, everywhere should have access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene.

Find out more about access to clean water around the world through WaterAid and Engineers Without Borders Australia.