Drought response

Managing our water supply is very important to us - especially when we're faced with severe drought conditions. 

Sydney’s water supply is planned and secured through the Metropolitan Water Plan. This is the NSW Government’s plan to ensure there's enough water for the people and environment of Greater Sydney.

We work closely with the NSW Government and other agencies, such as WaterNSW, to coordinate and deliver programs to respond to the drought.

Key elements of our drought response

We've been running our successful WaterFix® Residential program for households for almost 20 years. We also offer a WaterFix® Strata program for large strata buildings.

In these programs, our qualified plumbers check for leaks and ways for homeowners and strata bodies to save water. This usually means fixing leaks and installing water efficient fittings such as 4-star rated showerheads or dual flush toilets.

We're also trialling new water efficiency programs, including:

  • a program with local councils to reach small-medium businesses
  • an audit, repair and awareness program for schools.
We're also working with Hunter Water and Central Coast Council as part of the Save Water Alliance to develop an industry benchmarking methodology and tool. This will help us better identify the types of businesses that could save the most water with our help and expertise.

Plumber and customer talking in bathroom

WaterFix® Residential has helped make homes more water efficient for more than 20 years.

Prolonged, dry conditions can cause clay soil in parts of Greater Sydney to dry out. This leads to more leaks and breaks in our water network. Dry weather can also cause an increase in wastewater blockages due to tree roots seeking water in pipes because the soil is so dry. We respond to leaks and breaks as quickly as we can to reduce the amount of water lost.
Since February 2018, we've had more crews available to respond to these issues. This has helped to reduce the backlog of leaks and breaks.

We also have many ongoing programs to save water and operate more efficiently.

  • Our active Leak Reduction Program saves more than two billion litres of water a year. This program involves inspecting our network for leaks that aren't yet visible above ground so we can fix pipes before they break. In 2018-19, we inspected 13,877 kilometres of water mains.
  • We've developed a Customer Hub team to ensure we can respond more quickly when we receive reports about service issues and keep customers informed about progress. It's important that you report a leak as soon as you see a problem.
  • Our Water Pressure Management Program saves water by reducing pipe breaks and leaks caused by high or fluctuating water pressure. Since 2006, we've saved an average of 30 million litres of water each day by better managing water pressure.
Two workers repairing a leaking hydrant in the footpath

Our crews respond to leaks as quickly as possible.

Water Wise Guidelines are simple, common sense actions about the way we use drinking water outside.

In late 2020, the NSW Government announced that Water Wise Guidelines replaced water restrictions and apply to everyone in Sydney, the Blue Mountains and the Illawarra. This includes all residents and businesses.

Young child with watering can and family watching on

Use a watering can to minimise your water use and remember to only water before 10 am and after 4 pm.


Desalinated water meets the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines and our high standards. The plant has the capacity to produce up to 250 million litres a day at full production, which is equivalent to about 15% of Sydney’s drinking water needs.

The plant restarted on 27 January 2019 when Sydney’s total dam storage level dropped below 60%. The plant reached full production at the end of July 2019 and produced an average of 250 million litres a day until 26 March 2020.

Since 27 March 2020, the desalination plant has been operating at reduced capacity.

The extreme wet weather in March 2021 created a risk of poor water quality from the dams, so the plant needed to increase its production. Keeping the desalination plant running reduces the pressure on our treatment plants and ensures we continue to deliver high-quality drinking water for Greater Sydney.

Find out more about desalination.

Aerial view of Sydney desalination plant

The plant can produce about 15% of Sydney's daily drinking water needs.


We're working to maximise water recycling from our recycled water network to reduce demand for drinking water. This includes:

  • planning how the recycled water supply can be increased for existing recycled water systems, eg  Rouse Hill, St Marys and Wollongong
  • exploring opportunities to provide recycled water to local farmers for agricultural use
  • identifying ways to use recycled water instead of drinking water for major infrastructure projects around Sydney.

Water coming out of large silver pipes

We'll be maximising recycled water use from our advanced treatment plants.

water use in the home

Did you know that showers typically use more water than anything else in the home?