Water use & conservation

Sydney has about 5 million people. This is expected to increase 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 valuable resource and we shouldn’t waste it. That’s why we have water saving tips to help everyone do their bit to use water responsibly.

Did you know that most of the water used in Sydney is used at home?

How do you use water at home?

Brushing teeth

Brushing your 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 200 litres of drinking quality water every day!


Water use at home infographic

We typically use the most water in the shower.

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 see if your family is water wise.

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 at 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.

Did you know?
A dripping tap can waste up to 2,000 litres of water a month!

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 your 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 doing everyday things like showering or washing up.

Water use in the home
Appliance/source Litres (L) used
Regular showerhead
Water efficient showerhead

10 L a minute
6-7 L a minute
Average bath

110 L
Single flush toilet
Older dual flush toilet (1983s model)
Modern dual flush toilet (2005 or later)

11 L a flush
11 L a full flush, 5.5 L a half flush
4.5 L a full flush, 3 L a half flush
Hand basin
Running tap

4 L a minute
Washing by hand
Older dishwashing machine (before 2014)
Average dishwashing machine

15 L
13 L a load
12 L a load
Clothes washing
Front loader washing machine
Top loader washing machine 

65 L a load
110 L a load
Filling a backyard pool
Outdoor tap 

Up to 54,000 L
999 L an hour
15 L a minute
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

How can you be more water efficient?

Being careful with how much water we use helps makes sure there's enough for everybody. There are things we can all do every day to be more water efficient.

We all need to do our bit to save water by following the current Water Wise Guidelines and reducing outdoor water use.

Kitchens, bathrooms and laundries

  • Toothbrush

    Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth.

    Turn the tap on only as hard as you need.
  • Use the half flush button on your toilet instead of the full flush when you can.
  • 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.
  • Wait for a full load of dishes before turning on the dishwasher.
  • 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!


  • Use watering cans or trigger nozzles on hoses so 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 like many fertilisers.
  • 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.
  • Remove weeds from the garden that take water from the plants you want.
Learn more about what you can do to reduce water use using our water saving tips.
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 you save water at school?

Schools can take some simple steps to save water - it's the little things you do that can make a big difference.

Use water carefully
Turn the tap off when soaping your hands. Use the half flush on the toilet when you can. Use a bucket when washing paint brushes, art supplies or dishes. Turn off all taps after using them.

Re-use water
Put a bucket under taps or bubblers to catch excess water. Use the water to water the garden.

Report leaks
Report all leaking taps, bubblers, toilets or other water devices immediately. Set up a roster for a water monitoring team.

Do a school water audit
Do a water audit and learn where and how much water your school is using and wasting.

Develop a water savings action plan
Help your school become water efficient by developing and following a water savings action plan.

Track and measure water use
Chart progress and advertise results to make everyone aware of water use and improvements.

Get everyone involved
Develop a media campaign and advertise water saving behaviours at school and in the home.

Collect rainwater
Install and use rainwater tanks to water gardens and sporting ovals.

Create drought tolerant gardens
Plant drought tolerant plants and mulch gardens.

Install water saving devices
Replace old and leaking taps, toilets and bubblers with water efficient devices.

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.