Sydney’s high water demand for 2017

Media release

2 January 2018

2017 saw its fair share of hot and dry weather which caused a spike in water demand across the year.

The average daily water demand for December 2017 was 1.744 billion litres. This is 1.9% higher than the average daily demand for December 2016 (1.712 billion litres) and 19% higher than the 10-year historical average day for the month of December (1.462 billion litres).

The highest single day demand for water through December 2017 was 2.133 billion litres. This is 671 million litres higher than the long term daily average for December.

The year 2017

Average daily water demand for the 2017 calendar year was 1.587 billion litres. This is 14% higher than the 10-year historical calendar year average daily demand of 1.391 billion litres.

The highest demand day for 2017 of 2.215 billion litres occurred on Sunday 5 February 2017, which was the single highest demand day since 29 January 2003 (2.273 billion litres).

Sydney Water Hydraulics Operation Manager Robert Ius said that in January and February 2017, Sydney had a period of exceptionally hot weather which pushed up water demand. Sydney also had an exceptionally dry period from July to September with unseasonal warm weather which also drove increased water demand.

'Sydneysiders in relative terms are still quite efficient with their water use.

'The current average daily water use per person per day is running at 315 litres. This personal use per day figure is the same as it was in the 1940s!

'Similarly, total water use for all of the 4.8 million Sydney residents and businesses for the financial year 2016-17 was around 588 billion litres. This is about the same volume as in 2003-04, despite Sydney’s population increasing by around 1 million people or around 20% since then', said Mr Ius.

Peter Hadfield at Sydney Water said, 'It’s important to keep well hydrated during the hot weather and to drink plenty of Sydney’s refreshing tap water.

'However, water is a valuable resource and we need to make sure that we don’t waste it.

'Spikes in water usage during the hot weather are driven by external use, such as watering gardens, so we would ask everyone to follow our water wise tips to save water and to save money:

Water your garden in the early morning or evening to avoid evaporation.

Add a 7.5 cm layer of good quality organic mulch to help keep your soil moist.

Sweep or rake driveways and pathways – don’t use a hose to clean them.

Choose plants which are suitable for your area.

Group plants with similar needs so that they all get the right amount of water.

Improve the condition and water holding capacity of your soil by digging in some good quality compost or composted manure.

Lifting the blades on your mower to a higher setting to allow your lawn to grow a little longer will also help to reduce heat stress of your lawn through the hotter months.

Current dam levels on average across Sydney are at 81.7% as at 1 January 2018 – dam levels fell 0.7% over the past week (WaterNSW figures).

Water use in Sydney has remained low and relatively stable since drought restrictions were lifted and replaced by Water Wise Rules in June 2009. This reflects how people have maintained water wise behaviours inside and outside the home that they adopted during the Millennium Drought (2002-2009) despite increasing dam levels.

Analysis suggests that water use, on a per person basis, has reduced by customers:

  • adopting water wise behaviours inside and outside their homes
  • using water efficient appliances and dual flush toilets
  • using water from alternative sources such as rainwater tanks or recycled water
  • building water efficient houses through the NSW Government’s BASIX program.

Sydney Water’s Business Customer Representatives helped businesses save water by:

  • identifying opportunities to improve water management and processes
  • advising on leak detection, reuse and water efficient devices
  • giving industry specific advice such as best practice guidelines.

Specific high rise apartment buildings have seen significant water and costs savings following the completion of Sydney Water’s WaterFix® Strata service.

The 154 apartment Windsor Plaza in Sussex St was originally built in 1987 and has witnessed a 34% reduction in water bills, saving the Body Corporate around $44,000 a year in water usage charges.

Museum Towers located in Castlereagh St in Sydney’s CBD was originally built in the late 1980’s and the WaterFix program has led to a 27% reduction in water use, with savings around $33,700 a year.

Sydney Water Senior Project Officer Tony Robinson said, 'The WaterFix program helps reduce customers’ water bills through the repair and replacement of leaking taps and toilets. We also replace old single flush toilets with modern dual flush models.

'The customer pays nothing up-front for the service, but continues to pay their water bill at the same historical rate until the service is paid for, which normally takes around 3 years, after which time the Strata Committee will see significant reductions in their water bills', said Mr Robinson.