Water audit

How water-efficient is your school?

Could it do better? A school water audit is one way to find out. Follow the steps below to do your water audit. You could be helping your school save water and money. Plus you’ll learn about water use and conservation, the cost of water and how to manage water for the future.

Set goals

As a class, set some goals for your water audit.

Some goals might be to:

  • learn about how much water your school currently uses
  • find out how many water devices your school has
  • see how efficient your school's water devices are
  • understand how people use water at school and how water-efficient their behaviour is
  • identify how many litres per student per day you could save
  • find which areas of the school might have problems, like leaking taps that waste water.

How much water do we use?

Do you know how much water we use in our everyday lives?

On average, each person in Sydney uses about 200 litres of water a day!

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

Learn more about water use and conservation.

How much water should we aim to use?

Water-efficient primary schools typically use less than 9 litres/student/day and high schools use less than 12 litres/student/day.

School water use (L/student/day)

Primary school

High school


< 3

< 5

Very low water use (may be due to shared facilities)



Normal / efficient water use



Medium water use



High water use

> 50

> 50

Extremely high water use

Make a plan

Follow these steps to make a plan to do your audit.

  1. Do a risk assessment for your water audit. Think about all the things you’ll do and how you can do them safely.
  2. Form small groups and select a group leader, recorder and reporter.
  3. Gather the things you'll need.
  4. Study your audit area on the school map. As a group, think about what kinds of water devices are in your area and who uses them.
  5. Interview the people who use water.

Things you'll need

You’ll need a school map, a copy of your school’s water bill, a measuring jug, a stopwatch (or phone app), stationery, a clipboard, a camera (or phone camera) and the  Water Audit Recording Sheet (stage 4)

Water audit video

The video is a short and simple guide to doing a water audit and developing your school's water-efficiency plan.

Do the audit

On the day of the audit, follow these steps and your plan to find out how and where your school uses water.

  1. Gather in your group with your plan and your equipment.
  2. Use the Water audit recording sheet (stage 4) to fill in information about the devices in your area using a tally.
  3. For each leaking tap you find (a tap that can’t be turned off properly) hold the measuring jug under the tap and, using the stopwatch or watch, work out how much water is wasted in one minute. Write this information under the table. Put a mark where the leaking device is on the map.
  4. Look at your water bill to find out how much water the school uses every day.
  5. Read your school’s water meter.

Use a measuring jug and timer to work out how and where water is used in your school.

Review findings

After the water audit, return to your classroom and review your data as a whole class.

  1. Add together each group’s tally to get the total number of devices.
  2. Add the leaking devices from each group’s map onto a class map to show where all the leaking devices are.
  3. Calculate how much water could be lost through leaking devices in a year by adding up all the millilitres (mL) of water lost from each group’s Water audit recording sheet (stage 4) using the table below.
  4. Discuss your audit findings (the class total) and ways you can help your school become more water-efficient. Think of ideas to save water. Learn more about water use and conservation at home and school.
  5. Give the information to your principal so that leaking devices can get repaired.

School water lost through leaks






Water lost in one minute

Water lost in one hour (A x 60)

Water lost in 24 hours (B x 24)

Converted to litres        (C / 1000) 

Water lost in a year (D x 365)






Report and monitor

Report your findings

Finish off your water audit report and record your findings. You should be able to:

  • identify if your school is water-efficient
  • recommend actions for water savings improvements by fixing faults and changing behaviour
  • share your findings with teachers, students, cleaners, facilities and maintenance manager, office and finance manager and the principal.

Need help? Learn How to write a scientific report(141 KB).

Do a water audit at home and share your new skills with your family, too.

Monitor the outcomes

Monitor your school water use by regularly checking your water meter.

  • Has your school improved?
  • Are your water-saving actions working?
  • Have leaking devices been fixed?
  • Is the school community following more sustainable behaviours?
  • Do you need to keep motivating the people who use water to keep saving water? How could you do that?

Learn new skills

Doing a water audit is a great way to practise some skills and learn some new ones.

How do I read the water meter?

All schools have a water meter.

Every school has a water meter that shows how much water is being used.

You can work out how much water your school uses in a day by looking at the meter one day and comparing it to the same time the next day. The difference in the meter reading is the amount of water being used in a day. By monitoring the meter when no one is using water (like overnight), you can also work out if there are any leaks.

Learn How to read a water meter and find leaks.

Locating the water meter

Every school has a water meter. Usually, you'll find the meter at the front of your school. It should be just inside the front boundary or fence.

Can’t find your water meter?
If you can't find the meter, call us on 13 20 92. We can tell you where it is.

How do I read the water bill?

About every 3 months, your school gets a water bill from Sydney Water. This shows exactly how much water was used and how much this costs your school.

Learn How to read a water bill (321 KB).

How can I tell if a water device is efficient?

An efficient water device could be:

  • taps with at least a WELS 4 star rating. They can reduce water use by up to 52%
  • taps that automatically turn off and can't be left on
  • taps without a handle (can only be used by certain people, like cleaners)
  • aerators that screw onto the end of taps. They can reduce the flow rate by more than 50% without reducing pressure.

WELS 4 star tap.

Aerated tap.

Tap with no handle.

How can I be more water efficient?

We can choose to practise water efficient behaviour which will also help manage water in our school. We can do this by:

  • checking for leaks and reporting to school staff
  • turning the tap on only as hard as you need
  • turning the tap off while soaping hands
  • using a bucket when washing paint brushes, art supplies or dishes
  • using the ½ flush button on your toilet instead of the full flush when you can
  • watering gardens only before 10 am or after 4 pm.

Can you think of other ways to be more water efficient at home or at school?

Learn more about water use and conservation.

How do I do an interview?

Interviewing people who use water at school is a great way to get helpful information about how and where water is used in your school.

Who should I interview?

You should interview people who use water regularly at school. This might be other students, teachers, the school general assistant, cleaners, the school groundskeeper or gardener and your principal.

What should I ask?

It helps to plan your questions before starting an interview. Ask open-ended questions (questions that can’t be answered with a yes or no) to get the most information. Ask questions like:

  • Where do you use water?
  • How much water is used and how often?
  • What should students do if they see water leaks at school?
  • How water efficient are the water devices in the school?
  • Is there a rainwater tank in the school to capture water?
  • Is there a procedure for identifying and reporting leaks?
  • What kinds of water devices are used in the garden?
  • Does the school monitor water use?

Pay attention!
Don’t forget to face the person when you ask questions, make eye contact and really listen to their answers to show you’re paying attention. It might help to have one person ask questions and another take notes. 

How do I share my findings?

There’s lots of ways to share your findings from the water audit with your school community. You could share your report, make a presentation or a video, give a speech or hold a meeting.

Think about what your message is and how you can get people to take notice of it. You might like to try some Persuasive techniques (2.6 MB).

A media campaign could help get your message out. You could try:

  • making posters that encourage water wise behaviour
  • writing an article for the school newsletter or website
  • using social media.

How can you get your ideas across?

Don’t forget to celebrate your success! People like to know they’ve helped achieve something. So, when you start seeing water savings, think about ways to tell everyone what a great job they’re doing and how they can do more.

Teacher resources

This water audit fits well with Stage 4 Geography – Water in the world.

Teacher lesson plan – School Water Audit (stage 4) (179 KB)

Water Audit Recording Sheet (stage 4) (49 KB)

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