Making sure Sydney's water never runs dry

This week Council endorsed a draft Decentralised Water Master Plan for public exhibition. The Plan is part of the City's Green Infrastructure Plan, designed to deliver the greenhouse gas reduction and environmental targets in the Sustainable Sydney 2030 program.

The Decentralised Water Master Plan aims to:

  • Improve water efficiency in buildings across the City of Sydney to save 10 per cent on the 2006 demand by 2030;
  • Cut a quarter of water use in City buildings, parks and open spaces by 2030;
  • Halve the 26 billion litres of stormwater run-off into Sydney Harbour and Botany Bay;
  • Replace 54 per cent of drinking water used for non-drinking purposes with recycled water;
  • Water sensitive urban design, including rain gardens, swales, infiltration trenches within streetscapes and permeable pavers on footpaths to filter or retain stormwater and reduce pollution discharged into waterways; and
  • Diversify water sources to include recycled and treated waste water, stormwater, groundwater, roof water and sea water to reduce dependence on the drinking water supply.

It makes sense that we look at smarter ways to use water.

The majority of Sydney's current water demand is met through drinking water supplied from Warragamba Dam and piped 68 kilometres to the city, which wastes a significant amount of energy. But consumers only drink two per cent of the drinking water they use every day, the rest being used for non-drinking purposes.

Even after taking into account other uses for water, such as food preparation, cooking and personal hygiene, less than a fifth of water used in the household needs to be of drinking quantity.

Population growth by 2030 will increase water demand in the City of Sydney area by 30 per cent.

Office and apartment blocks are by far the largest users of water and would save on water use with fairly simple measures such as promoting water efficient tap and shower heads and fixing cooling tower leaks.

The City has been actively reducing pollution through waste management, street cleaning, trapped gully pits and natural treatments such as rain gardens and wetlands to reduce the impact on waterway and marine health.

Find out more about the City's plans to preserve clean drinking water, visit

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