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What Sydney’s new water restrictions mean for you

Level two restrictions include:

  • No hosing of gardens: you can use only a watering can or bucket to water your garden before 10am and after 4pm.
  • You can only use drip irrigation or smart watering systems for a maximum of 15 minutes a day per watering zone before 10am and after 4pm.
  • You can only top up an existing pool or spa, using a hose fitted with a trigger nozzle, watering can or bucket for a maximum of 15 minutes a day. You can only do this to replace water lost through evaporation, not to replace water deliberately removed from the pool or spa.
  • You can only wash vehicles with bucket and sponge.
  • You need a permit to fill new or renovated pools and spas that hold more than 500 litres.


Sydneysiders use an average of 180 litres of water per person per day.  But as well as meeting water restrictions, more can be done to minimise Sydney’s water usage.

One such measure is using grey water – water collected from showers, baths, sinks and washing machines.

“Grey water is the portion of waste water that comes from some of the less contaminated sources of water in a home,” says Stuart Khan, a professor at UNSW’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

“It most commonly comes from a clothes washing machine, but can also include baths and showers.”

He said it was fine to use grey water for gardens as long as “large filterable materials have been removed”.

 Tanya Lazarou is teaching her children - Logan, 4, and Lara, eight months - the value of water conservation.

Tanya Lazarou is teaching her children – Logan, 4, and Lara, eight months – the value of water conservation.

Ryde mother-of-two Tanya Lazarou is also teaching her older child, Logan, 4, about water conservation.

”With Logan in particular, I’m teaching him that the farmers haven’t got water and we need to be conscious of how much he turns the tap on, and how much he really needs,” she said.

Mrs Lazarou is also vigilant at the park. ”When we’re at parks with the little children, they’ll often turn the tap on and use it as a sprinkler,” she said. ”I’ll often try and nip it in the bud and turn the tap off as politely as I can.”

She has abandoned car washing. ”My car is pretty filthy,” she said. ”But I feel bad taking the car to the car wash.”

Lessons from Cape Town

In 2018, the South African city of Cape Town feared it would reach Day Zero: not having enough water to supply the city of 3.8 million people.


Its dams dropped below 13.5 per cent as residents were encouraged to restrict usage to 50 litres per person a day.

By rationing intake, water usage was reduced from 1.1 billion to 600 million litres per day.

What lessons can be learnt from Day Zero to reduce Sydney’s usage?

  1. Put plastic bowls in all basins and don’t let water go down the drain – this will help you see how much is being used.
  2. Use a cup of water to brush your teeth and rinse.
  3. Freeze your jeans instead of washing them.
  4. Defrost food in fridge or at room temperature rather than placing under hot running water.
  5. Have leaky taps fixed or replaced. Sydney Water is offering a free service to do this called Waterfix.

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