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Be Water Wise Outside – or Pay the Price

Sydneysiders remember well the era of compulsory water restrictions as the effects of the El Nino weather pattern saw our dams emptying to critical levels. Rainfall may have refilled dams and alleviated the need for water restrictions but these have been replaced by the Water Wise Rules, established by Sydney Water, and based on easy, common sense outdoor actions that can save water.

Even Sydney’s biggest gardens, the Botanic Gardens, are complying by upgrading their watering systems and introducing water saving measures. Some of the strategies implemented by the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust are applicable to Sydney homeowners.

We’re highlighting the rules here because, as a local plumber, Manly residents often ask us about them. Northern Beaches locals are already water conscious but these are a good reminder of what we can do, because, as the slogan says, every drop counts and non-compliance is subject to fines.

Why Water Wise Rules?

In an arid country like Australia, which is subject to drought, being water wise simply makes good sense. It is good for the environment and good for our hip pockets, because outdoor water use accounts for about 25% of the average home water bill, according to Sydney Water.

The Water Wise Rules that apply to all Sydneysiders and residents of the Blue Mountains and Illawarra are in place to ensure we keep the good water saving habits we implemented during the period of water restrictions.

We need to be aware of the way we use water to ensure that we have sufficient reserves during severe periods of low rainfall and drought.

What’s in it for homeowners? Potentially big savings on water bills.

The Botanic Gardens Get Smart

The Botanic Gardens have implemented three key strategies that are immediately applicable to anyone with a garden.

1. The use of rainwater tanks to collect rain for use in the garden.

2. Mulching and composting to reduce the loss of water from the ground through evaporation.

3. Smart planting using hardy, drought tolerant plants and grouping plants by water requirements.

Not only are the Gardens getting smart with water, they are also helping you to do so in your own garden through their brochure on how to ‘Get Smart With Water’. The brochure includes tips and instructions for a self-guided tour of their water-wise garden. The Botanic Gardens also offers information on composting and mulching, as well as plant choice.

By getting smart with water the Botanic Gardens is complying with the Water Wise Rules.

Being Water Wise is More than Just Mulch

The rules covering outdoor water use include more than just the steps that are being implemented in the Botanic Gardens. Residents from the Illawarra to the Blue Mountains and throughout Sydney need to know the rules because they face fines of up to $220 for non-compliance.

The Water Wise Rules cover 3 main area of outdoor water use.

1. Watering the garden
2. Pool maintenance & health
3. Cleaning


*Use trigger nozzle hoses, and other watering systems such as irrigation and sprinklers outside of the hottest period of the day – 10am to 4pm.

*Lawns and gardens can be watered at any time using a bucket.

*If new turf has been laid it can be watered at any time for 14 days after it has been laid.

*Use rainwater from a collection tank, provided it isn’t supplemented by drinking water supplies.

Pools, You and Your Pets

*Water can be used to top up pools, or fill them.

*If a person or animal is suffering because of the heat, water can be used to cool them.


*Use trigger nozzle hoses, watering cans, or buckets to wash your car.

*Use a trigger nozzle hose to clean your bin preferably in a dedicated bay or on the grass.

*In instances of health and safety, or emergency, construction, or due to surface discolouration you can hose concrete or paved surfaces. Authorised Sydney Water staff are able to ask you to provide a legitimate reason for the cleaning activity.

Flush boat engines with a hose.

*Use a trigger nozzle hose or high pressure device to clean boat bilges and the brakes and wheels of boat trailers.

The Water Wise Rules are easier to comply with water restrictions, but non-compliance can still result in a fine being applied. They are simple water use guidelines that can conserve our water supply, and help your household budget.

Useful information about complying in the garden can be sourced from the Botanic Gardens. Any questions about connecting irrigation systems, rainwater tanks, or water leak detection can be addressed with your local plumber. Manly residents can call us on 0411 774 381.

Be water wise or pay the price.