Council Water Efficiency

Sustaining our Towns ran water efficiency training for Councils around our project region in May 2011.  Adam Jones from BMT WBM (Environmental and Engineering Consultants) presented the workshops which ran at Cooma, Queanbeyan, Goulburn and Young. 

 Download the full Council water efficiency workshop presentation (Note 7MB PDF) 

A summary of main points coming out of the sessions

Common mistakes

  • Thinking about large occasional uses instead of constant leaks
  • Blaming cleaners for the overnight flow
  • Presuming the meter must be faulty
  • Not checking for continuous urinal flushing
  • Ignoring fixtures with intermittent leaks (toilet with sticky button)
  • Not prioritising works by cost effectiveness and expected results

Key steps to achieving water efficiency

  • Monitor water meters (invest in pulse meters to get detailed water use data)
  • Find and fix leaks – then check again soon by making sure this is integrated into your maintenance schedule
  • Install low flow shower heads in any showers used
  • Put pressure compensated flow regulators on any tap that will fit them
  • Make hot water efficiency a priority
  • Create a process and culture for reporting leaks
  • Compare WELS ratings on new items

Measure your water use

Measuring how much water is used either by meter, sub meter or data logger (a device that can be attached to the meter and records in time intervals) is the key to knowing where there are problems and to see any change as a result of efficiency efforts. 

Where to start?

The good news is that even the experts believe the best investment is to find and fix leaks. 

Water Efficiency Hierarchy 

Reproduced with permission from Adam Jones from BMT WBM

Common opportunities for water savings: 

  • Identify baseflow (water used when the facility is not in operation) and fix any leaks with a focus on 
    • Leaking toilets
    • Constantly flushing urinals (it may be necessary for someone to stay in the toilet for some time to identify this)
    • Overflows due to faulty ball float valves
  • If a known leak cannot be found, determine if the size of the leak is wortis worth hiring audio detectors or gas ‘sniffers’
  • Install efficient shower fittings (if a shower is ever used it’s worth putting an efficient shower head in)
  • Replace flow control in taps
  • Reduce irrigation frequency in playing fields  (see resources links below)
  • Improve toilet maintenance for leak prevention and early fixing
  • Reduce toilet flush volumes or replace with dual flush toilets
  • Install low flow high pressure spray guns at pools and in food areas
  • Look for overflows in equipment such as cooling towers
  • Follow documented cleaning procedures (rather than those that may have been adopted by the staff performing the work)

Water AND Energy wins

When pumping, treating or heating water there is additional costs to the water use. On a conservative estimate, electrically heated hot water costs around $10.40/kL. Make it a priority to improve hot water leaks and efficiency. 

Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme (WELS)

All water fixtures (taps, showers, toilets, flow controllers) must have a WELS rating.Check and compare the WELS rating of new items (

Alternative water supply

Opportunities for alternative water supply on Council facilities are often the first thing that gets considerred in Councils looking towards implementing sustainability measures.  But they should really be considered after leaks and the other more cost effective measures have been implemented, or in conjunction with a leak and showerhead/toilet replacement program. 

Alternate water supply sources include:

  • Rainwater 
  • Stormwater 
  • Greywater 
  • Blackwater 
  • Reverse osmosis
  • Cooling tower bleed 
  • Air handling condensate 
  • Boiler blowdown 
  • Cooling jackets 
  • Process waste 
  • Trade waste 

When considering alternative water supply and use options remember:

  • Rainwater tanks are most effective when there is plenty of roof area and space for large tanks
  • Stormwater use is most effective when it’s convenient to tap into an existing stormwater main and there is plenty of storage (e.g. dam)
  • Greywater is most effective when designed into new buildings

Additional resources

Sydney Water have best practice guides to assist businesses in improving water efficiency. The guides include Aquatic Leisure Centres, Open Space Turf Management and Commercial Office Buildings. See

The LGSA Water Loss Management Program was a project to support local utilities to reduce leakage from their drinking water distribution system. There is more information and examples of water savings at the website

The DPI have developed a resource that can potentially help Councils to better understand irrigation needs of playing fields:


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