Water Wise Guidelines

The rules we all need to follow to save water

Our Water Wise Guidelines, which we used to call 'water restrictions', are the simple, commonsense things that we all need to do, every day, year round, to help save water across Greater Sydney. Everyone has a responsibility to be water wise. Water Wise Guidelines apply to all residents and businesses in Sydney, the Blue Mountains and the Illawarra. 


Water Wise Guidelines – summary

Under the guidelines, you can use drinking water to:

  • water lawns and gardens before 10am and after 4pm 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 watering 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
  • clean concrete and paved areas for health, safety, emergency or surface contamination reasons, and for construction activities
  • suppress dust or assist with cutting, drilling or tunnelling
  • 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
  • clean hard surfaces such as paths, driveways and paved areas as part of general cleaning.

Watering new turf and gardens

Residents and businesses

You can water newly laid turf and gardens at any time for up to 28 days from the installation or 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 10am and after 4pm only.

You can:

  • use a hand-held hose fitted with an instant on–off mechanism such as a trigger nozzle
  • use sprinklers and watering systems.

You can't:

  • allow water to run off onto hard surfaces such as paths or roads
  • leave taps or hoses running unattended.

Read our CHOICE hose nozzle test report (388KB) to learn more about the best trigger hose nozzles.

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


Filling pools, spas and ponds

Residents and businesses

You can:

  • top up an existing pool, spa or pond to replace water lost through evaporation, firefighting or related activities
  • fill a new or renovated pool, spa or pond.

You can't:

  • allow the pool, spa or pond to overflow when filling or topping up.  

There's no requirement to use a pool cover, but we strongly recommend that you use one. Pool covers help extend the swimming season and they can also help you save water, energy, time and money. Find out more about the benefits of a pool cover from the Swimming Pool & Spa Association.

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


Cleaning vehicles, including boats

Residents and businesses

You can:

  • 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
  • wash your vehicle at a commercial car wash 
  • 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
  • flush boat engines using a hose fitted with an appropriate flushing device to meet the manufacturer's specifications
  • 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
  • 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:

  • leave hoses and taps running unattended.

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.


Cleaning buildings and other hard surfaces

Residents and businesses

You can:

  • 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
  • use water to clean paths, driveways, concrete or other paved areas for health, safety, emergency or surface contamination reasons and for construction activities (including resurfacing) using a hand-held hose fitted with an instant on-off mechanism, such as a trigger nozzle, or high-pressure water cleaning equipment – whenever possible, please use a broom or a mop and bucket
  • wash your garbage bin using a hand-held hose fitted with an instant on–off mechanism such as a trigger nozzle.

You can't:

  • leave hoses and taps running unattended.

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.


Cooling people and animals

Residents

You can:

  • use water to cool people or animals
  • use water for animal husbandry reasons.

You can't:

  • leave taps or hoses running unattended.
Businesses

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, such as water play parks. 

You can use water to clean or cool animals.


Building and construction

Businesses

You can:

  • use water to clean paths, driveways, concrete or other paved areas for health, safety, emergency or surface contamination reasons and for construction activities (including resurfacing) using a hand-held hose fitted with an instant on–off mechanism, such as a trigger nozzle, or high-pressure water cleaning equipment, or use water for dust suppression if there is no alternative water source (such as recycled water) reasonably available
  • use water to safely operate cutting, drilling and tunnelling equipment, or for pipe jetting.

You can't:

  • clean hard surfaces such as paths, driveways and paved areas with a hose or high-pressure cleaning equipment as part of general cleaning
  • leave hoses and taps running unattended.

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.


Fighting fires and testing fire systems

Residents and businesses

You can:

  • use any available water source to fight housefires or bushfires that threaten property 
  • use water for hazard reduction or other essential services
  • test fire services
  • use water to clean up after a fire threat has passed – for example, you can use a hose to remove fire retardant materials if necessary.

You can't:

  • use a fire hose to clean public amenities or other hard surfaces – fire hoses can only be used for firefighting, testing and related activities.

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


Fixing leaks

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.

Using recycled water, greywater, bore water or river water

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).

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

How can you tell us about someone misusing water?

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


Save with WaterFix

We all need to do our bit to save water. You can save thousands of litres by fixing leaks and installing water efficient devices. Check our latest offer to see how we can help.


'Smart watering systems'

‘Smart watering systems’ are systems that are controlled by a device that responds to changes in weather and/or water demand from sensors. They're programmed to automatically adjust watering patterns based on weather and soil conditions. These watering programs must be optimised for local conditions and aimed at helping your plants survive the summer heat rather than growth.