Water audit

A school water audit is a way to find out how water efficient your school is. You'll discover:

  • how many water devices your school has
  • how efficient your school's water devices are
  • which areas of the school might have problems, like leaking taps that waste water
  • how people use water at school and how water efficient their behaviour is.

You can use a water audit to help your school save water and money. You’ll learn about water use and conservation, our value for water and how to manage water for the future.

How to do an audit

School students working.

Set some goals together.

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

Some goals might be to:

  • learn about how much water your school currently uses
  • identify how many litres per student per day you could save
  • find leaks and report them.

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 Rating
< 3 < 5 Very low water use (may be due to shared facilities)
3 - 9 5 - 12 Normal / efficient water use
9 - 18 12 - 24 Medium water use
18 - 50 24 - 50 High water use
> 50 > 50 Extremely high water use

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.
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).
  1. 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.
  2. Interview the people who use water.

Water audit video

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

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):
    1. hold the measuring jug under the tap and, using the stopwatch or watch, work out how much water is wasted in one minute
    2. write this information under the table
    3. 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.
Photo of students doing a water aduit.

Use a measuring jug and timer to work out water is used.

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.
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)

  1. 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.
  2. Give the information to your Principal so that leaking devices can get repaired.

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, both fixing faults and changing behaviour
  • share your findings with teachers, students, cleaners, facilities and maintenance manager, office and finance manager and Principal.
Need help? Learn How to write a scientific report.

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?


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

How do I read the water meter?

Photo of a girl recording a water meter reading.

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 three 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.

How can you 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.
Photo of a water efficient tap.

WELS 4 star tap. 

Photo of an aerated tap.

Aerated tap.

Tap without handle

Tap with no handle.

We can choose to practise water efficient behaviour to help manage water in our school too. 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
  • water gardens 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.

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. 
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 how what your message is and ways you can get people to take notice of it. You might like to try some Persuasive techniques.

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.
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.

Here's a lesson plan and recording sheet to get you started.

Wastewater audit

Girl washing her face

Do a wastewater audit and discover how you can make a positive impact on wastewater quality and protect the environment.

Learn more about our Wastewater audit.

Self-guide excursions

Alexandria canal

These excursions are designed for teachers to deliver. We'll provide a resource pack that includes lesson plans, worksheets and PowerPoint presentations.

Learn more about our self-guide excursions.