Water restrictions

Water Wise Guidelines apply from 1 December

The NSW Government has announced that Water Wise Guidelines have replaced Level 1 water restrictions and apply to everyone in Sydney, the Blue Mountains and the Illawarra. This includes all residents and businesses.

The restrictions have eased, but let’s stay water wise!
 

Water Wise Guidelines - summary

Under the guidelines, you can use drinking water to:
  • water lawns and gardens before 10 am and after 4 pm using a hand-held hose fitted with a trigger nozzle, sprinklers or standard watering systems
  • water new turf and gardens at any time for up to 28 days
  • water lawns and gardens with drip irrigation systems or 'smart water systems'  at any time
  • top up pools and spas to replace water lost through evaporation
  • fill new or renovated pools and spas
  • wash vehicles with a hand-held hose fitted with a trigger nozzle or high pressure cleaning equipment
  • clean buildings (including windows, walls and gutters) with a hand-held hose fitted with a trigger nozzle or high pressure cleaning equipment
  • cool people and animals.
You can't:
  • allow water to run off onto hard surfaces
  • leave taps and hoses running unattended
  • allow pools or spas to overflow when being filled.


Choose a topic below for more details

Residents

You can water lawns and gardens using:

Tick icon - large a hand-held hose fitted with an instant on-off mechanism such as a trigger nozzle before 10 am and after 4 pm

Tick icon - large standard sprinklers and watering systems before 10 am and after 4 pm

Tick icon - large drip irrigation systems or 'smart water systems'  at any time.
 

You can't:

Cross icon no background allow water to run off on to hard surfaces such as paths or roads

Cross icon no background leave taps or hoses running unattended.
 

What can you do if you have a medical condition and can't follow the guidelines?
If you have a medical condition or some other special circumstance and couldn't comply with the water restrictions, you may already have an exemption. Your exemption is still valid and you don't need to re-apply.

If you don't already have an exemption and feel you can't comply with the Water Wise Guidelines, you may be eligible for a special exemption.

Find out more about special exemptions for residential customers or call us on 13 20 92 to discuss your individual needs.    

Businesses

If you fit into one of the following categories, you can water the lawns, gardens, plants and sports surfaces you're responsible for at any time. This applies to:
  • commercial retail nurseries
  • commercial plant growers
  • market gardeners
  • landscapers
  • mobile garden contractors
  • people responsible for maintaining community lawns and gardens, sports or racing surfaces.

You can water any time  using:
Tick icon - large  a hand-held hose fitted with an instant on-off mechanism such as a trigger nozzle

 
Tick icon - large  sprinklers and watering systems.
 
You can't:

Cross icon no background allow water to run off on to hard surfaces such as paths or roads

Cross icon no background leave taps or hoses running unattended.

Two people watering a garden with a hose fitted with a trigger nozzle.

You can water your garden with a hose fitted with a trigger nozzle before 10 am and after 4 pm.

Residents and businesses

You can water newly laid turf and gardens at any time for up to 28 days from the installation/planting date according to the care instructions provided by the supplier, installer or garden care professional. After the first 28 days, you can water before 10 am and after 4 pm only.

You can water your new turf and gardens using:

Tick icon - large a hand-held hose fitted with an instant on-off mechanism such as a trigger nozzle

Tick icon - large sprinklers and watering systems.

You can't:
Cross icon no background allow water to run off on to hard surfaces such as paths or roads

Cross icon no background leave taps or hoses running unattended.
Roll of new turf being laid on soil.

You can water new turf at any time for up to 28 days to help establish roots.

Residents and businesses

You can:

Tick icon - large top up an existing pool or spa to replace water lost through evaporation, firefighting or related activities

Tick icon - large fill a new or renovated pool or spa.

You can't:
Cross icon no background allow the pool or spa to overflow when filling or topping up.  

Water filling a swimming pool.

You can top up a pool to replace water lost due to evaporation - but don't overfill it!

Residents and businesses

You can:
Tick icon - large wash your car, truck, van, motorbike or caravan using a bucket of water and a sponge, a hand-held hose fitted with an instant on-off mechanism such as a trigger nozzle, or high pressure water cleaning equipment
 
Tick icon - large wash your vehicle at a commercial car wash 

Tick icon - large wash your private boat for 10 minutes using a hand-held hose fitted with an instant on-off mechanism such as a trigger nozzle or high pressure water cleaning equipment at a public boat ramp or marina after the boat has been in seawater

Tick icon - large flush boat engines using a hose fitted with an appropriate flushing device to meet the manufacturer's specifications

Tick icon - large fill water tanks on a boat, or water-soluble chemical tanks in vehicles or vessels, using a hand-held hose as long as you don't allow the tank to overflow

Tick icon - large clean bilges and essential safety components on boat trailers (including wheels and brakes) using a hand-held hose fitted with an instant on-off mechanism such as a trigger nozzle or high pressure water cleaning equipment

You can't:

Cross icon no background leave hoses and taps running unattended.


Woman cleaning car with a bucket of water and a sponge.

You can wash your car using a bucket of water and a sponge, a hose fitted with a trigger nozzle or high pressure cleaning equipment.

Residents and businesses

You can:

Tick icon - large wash buildings or parts of buildings (such as gutters, windows, walls) using a hand-held hose fitted with an instant on-off mechanism, such as a trigger nozzle, or high pressure water cleaning equipment

Tick icon - large use water to clean paths, driveways, concrete or other paved areas for health, safety, emergency or surface contamination reasons using a hand-held hose fitted with an instant on-off mechanism, such as a trigger nozzle, or high pressure water cleaning equipment

Tick icon - large wash your garbage bin using a hand-held hose fitted with an instant on-off mechanism such as a trigger nozzle.

You can't:

Cross icon no background clean hard surfaces such as paths, driveways and paved areas with a hose or high pressure cleaning equipment as part of general cleaning

Cross icon no background leave hoses and taps running unattended.


 

Woman cleaning windows with a bucket and cloth

You can clean your windows or other hard surfaces using a bucket of water and a cloth, a hose with a trigger nozzle or high pressure cleaning equipment.

Residents

You can use water:
Tick icon - large  to cool people or animals

Tick icon - large  for animal husbandry reasons.

You can't:
Cross icon no background leave taps or hoses running unattended.

Businesses

Tick icon - large  Commercial water slide operators (fixed or mobile) and people operating commercial or municipal recreational facilities can use water where it forms an integral part of their operation, eg water play parks. 
 

Dog being washed in a bucket.

You can use water to clean or cool animals.

Businesses

You can:
Tick icon - large use water to clean paths, driveways, concrete or other paved areas for health, safety, emergency or surface contamination reasons and for construction activities using a hand-held hose fitted with an instant on-off mechanism, such as a trigger nozzle, or high pressure water cleaning equipment

Tick icon - large use water for dust suppression if there is no alternative water source (such as recycled water) reasonably available

Tick icon - large use water to safely operate cutting, drilling and tunnelling equipment, or for pipe jetting.

You can't:
Cross icon no background clean hard surfaces such as paths, driveways and paved areas with a hose or high pressure cleaning equipment as part of general cleaning

Cross icon no background leave hoses and taps running unattended.

Construction equipment on a road.

You can use drinking water for cutting, drilling and tunnelling activities. You can also use it for dust suppression if there's no other alternative.


Residents and businesses

You can:

Tick icon - large use any available water source to fight housefires or bushfires that threaten property 

Tick icon - large use water for hazard reduction or other essential services

Tick icon - large test fire services

Tick icon - large use water to clean up after a fire threat has passed, eg you can use a hose to remove fire retardant materials if necessary.
 
You can't:

Cross icon no background 
use a fire hose to clean public amenities or other hard surfaces. Fire hoses can only be used for firefighting, testing and related activities.

Hose spraying water onto a fire.

You can use any available water source available if your property is under threat from fire.

Residents and businesses

While we do all we can to repair leaks quickly on our water supply system, many leaks that are reported to us are on private property and we can't fix them. If there's a leak on your property, we may ask you to engage a plumber to repair the leak.

Where relevant, we’ll refer you to one of our water saving programs:

  • WaterFix® Residential is a service where our qualified plumbers fix leaking taps and fixtures around your home and install water saving fittings like 4 star showerheads.
  • WaterFix® Concealed Leaks is a service which helps find and repair hidden leaks.
  • PlumbAssist® is a service for eligible customers with payment difficulties who require essential plumbing services. This is one of the services we offer if you need help with your bill.


Our aim is always to work with you to fix leaks. If you don't respond when we ask you to fix a leak, you may be subject to fines under the Water Wise Guidelines.

 

Leaking pipe spraying water.

We try to work with property owners to fix leaks on private properties. 

 

The following water sources are not affected by the Water Wise Guidelines. However, many of these water sources have other controls on how they can be used and it's still important to use all water wisely.

What's excluded from the Water Wise Guidelines?

  • Recycled water (supplied in some parts of Sydney through purple pipes).
  • Greywater (water that's collected after being used in washing machines, sinks and showers etc).
  • Rainwater (as long as the tank/dam doesn't contain any drinking water).
  • Bore water (some government restrictions apply).
  • River water (you need to have a licence).
A regular water meter next to a recycled water meter (coloured purple).

If we supply you with recycled water through purple pipes, it's excluded from the guidelines. 

Frequently asked questions 

If you see someone deliberately misusing water, you can  Make a report about Water Wise Guidelines.

Please check what's allowed before you submit a report as some exclusions apply to the Water Wise Guidelines.

We'll review any reports we receive and can issue fines of $220 for individuals and $550 for businesses.
Exemptions don't normally apply to the Water Wise Guidelines, but residential customers may be eligible in certain circumstances. 

Find out about special exemptions for residential customers.

It's important that we manage our water supply effectively - 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 now and in the future.

The drought has reminded us that saving water needs to be our new way of life. Find out about all the elements of our drought response.


What are the fines for not following the Water Wise Guidelines?
Fines of $220 apply to individuals and $550 for businesses.



 

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