Water use and conservation

Understand how we use water every day

Water is a valuable resource. That’s why understanding how we use water helps everyone do their bit to use water responsibly. Let's explore some of the things you can do. Like, learn how to read a water meter, find out how much water your appliances use, do a water audit and learn some water-saving tips.

Water in your home

Sydney has over 5 million people. All these people need water for drinking, cooking, washing, making products, growing food, fighting fires, keeping cool, watering gardens and recreation activities.

How do you use water at home?

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

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 does your home compare? (153KB)

How much water do you use?

On average, each person in Sydney uses about 200 litres of drinking quality water every day!

There are 2 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.

See How to read a water meter and find leaks (499KB).

You can read your meter to find out how much water you've used.

Reading your bill

We send your family a water bill about every 3 months. This shows exactly how much water you used over the past 3 months and how much this costs your family.

See How to read your water bill (320KB).

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

Water use in different appliances

Is it better to hand wash dishes or use the dishwasher?

Which uses more water, a bath or a shower?

Use the tables below to work out how much water your family uses doing everyday things like showering or washing up.


Litres (L) used

Washing by hand
Older dishwashing machine (before 2014)
Average dishwashing machine

15 L
13 L a load
12 L a load

Leaks (taps and pipes)
Dripping tap
Leaking pipe (1.5 mm hole)

27 - 198 L a day
99 L a day


Litres (L) used

Regular showerhead
Water efficient showerhead

10 L a minute
6-7 L a minute

Average bath

110 L

Hand basin
Running tap

4 L a minute

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

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


Litres (L) used

Clothes washing
Front loader washing machine
Top loader washing machine 

65 L a load
110 L a load

Leaks (taps and pipes)
Dripping tap
Leaking pipe (1.5 mm hole)

27–198 L a day
99 L a day


Litres (L) used

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

Water audits

Do a water audit to find out how water efficient your school is and how to manage water for the future.

Water conservation

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 and bathrooms

  • Take shorter showers. Every minute less in the shower saves one bucket of water.
  • 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.
  • Wait for a full load of dishes before turning on the dishwasher.


  • Wait for a full load of washing before turning on the washing machine.
  • Consider installing water efficient appliances at home.
  • Turn off taps when you finish using them. 
  • Report leaking taps to an adult. A 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 centimetres 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.

Did you know?

Schools in greater Sydney use about 7,790 million litres of water a year!

Learn more about what you can do to reduce water use using our water saving tips.

Teacher resources

Drinking Water Taste Test (201KB) – Set up a blind taste test as an experiment.

Water on Earth – Video.

The Brand Without A Bottle – Think about how the power of persuasion influences our choices.

Glossary – Find definitions to key words and industry terms.