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Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Water Efficiency

For Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)

Cartoon Image - Greenhouse Challenge Plus Fact Sheet 4 - Water Efficiency

Climate Change

Climate change caused by greenhouse gases is one of the most serious challenges facing our community. Human actions—particularly burning fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) and land clearing—are generating more greenhouse gases. These additional greenhouse gases trap more heat and raise the earth’s surface temperature. This is called the enhanced greenhouse effect—it causes global warming and is changing our climate.

The impacts of climate change will have social, environmental and economic consequences that will affect all communities across the globe.

Why Small and Medium Enterprises

Greenhouse gas abatement is not just for the big end of town. Climate change will affect all of us and therefore it is to everyone’s benefit to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Most measures to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions will save you money in the long term, increasing profitability. Some measures will even help to improve productivity and the marketability of your business. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions should be seen as an opportunity to provide your business with a strong business advantage.

Water Efficiency

Whether you are a small office, a laundry or a medium sized industrial site you will find that water efficiency can be a cost-effective way to reduce operating costs while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. To identify opportunities for increasing the water efficiency of your business, you will need to investigate how water is used in your business. For instance, the ways in which your business uses water may include for:

Once you have identified all the ways in which water is consumed by your business, you can begin to identify ways in which water usage can be monitored and managed.

Simple No Cost Changes

Educate. Develop a water saving plan and educate staff as to the benefits of reducing water usage. Inform your suppliers and service contractors that your business is committed to reducing its water usage so that they can make water efficiency a priority when offering you products and services.

Read your meter. By regularly reading your water meter you will be able to detect changes in water usage patterns, for example, a sharp increase in water used could indicate a leak in the system, which could be then rectified to prevent continued waste of water. Displaying meter readings in staffed areas may also be used as a motivator for staff to reduce water use. Consider setting water saving goals and promote staff achievements when these goals are met.

Reduce water use in the work kitchen. Develop a list of tips to inform staff of ways to conserve water in the kitchen, for example:

Laundries. If your business provides an in-house laundry facility for staff, encourage staff to wash only full loads of laundry.

Cleaning. Optimise cleaning schedules to reduce water waste.

Gardens. Tips to save water in gardens include:

Clean paths. Sweep paved areas to clean them, do not use a hose.

Water features. Only install and use water features that recycle water.

Cooling. Reduce the amount of water used in space cooling equipment to the minimum recommended by the manufacturer. Do not use the cooler unnecessarily.

Low Cost Options

Repair leaks. Fix leaks as soon as you find them. Repairing water leaks will always save you money, even if you have to pay a plumber to fix the leak. Check your water meters on a weekly basis to identify any sudden changes in water consumption that may indicate a leak.

Mysterious leaks. Check for leaks by turning off every water-using item inside and outside your building and observing your water meter for a minute. If the consumption dial on the meter moves, it may indicate that have a water leak that you will need to locate and rectify. Alternatively, record your meter reading at the end of the day, shut off all water using equipment and read the meter again in the morning. If there has been a change in the reading, it is most likely that there is a leak on your premises that will need to be located and rectified.

Efficient fittings. Install tap aerators and water efficient showerheads. Fit push button taps that turn off after a set amount of time. Install restrictor valves in pipes and keep water flow constant. Add timer controls or automatic shut-off devices to hoses, taps, showers and other such utilities.

Gardens. Choose plants that are native or suited to your area and require little or no watering. Use mulch and wetting agents around shrubs and garden plants to reduce evaporation. Use an automatic shutoff nozzle or trigger nozzle on hoses and install moisture sensors on sprinkler systems. Use soaker hoses or trickle irrigation to water plants.

Rain water. Collect rainwater for use in your gardens.

Recycle water. Wastewater can be used for a variety of purposes, for example it can be used for gardening, cooling and to wash paved areas. Sources of water that may be suitable for recycling include final rinses from wash cycles or tank cleaning, pasteurizer and sterilizer water, boiler makeup and water from refrigeration equipment. Be aware that what recycled water can be used for, will depend on where it has come from and how it is treated.

Cleaning. Investigate using reusable microfibre technology cleaning products, which can reduce water use and the use of chemical cleaning products.

Processing. Use scrapers, squeegees and brushes to sweep up spills and slurries in the workplace rather than using a hose.

Investment Projects

Install Rainwater Tanks & Grey Water Systems. Consider the installation of rainwater tanks and grey water systems.

Buy water saving equipment. As old units wear out, replace with water efficient models. Many products are rated for water efficiency, so look for the relevant water efficiency or water conservation label. WELS Australia’s water efficiency labeling scheme allows consumers to compare the water efficiency of different products. The Smart Approved Water Mark (SA WM) is a voluntary scheme for products and services which cannot be rated under the WELS program. Products include low flow car washes, cleaning devices, gardening products, rainwater tanks and greywater systems. See the following websites:;;

Alternative water sources. Purchasing recycled water or groundwater may be an option for your business. Recycled water of ‘various classes’ while restricted in it’s use and requiring strict controls, can be delivered to your business. Groundwater can also be delivered.

Toilets. Install low flush toilets, or retrofit water-saving devices on existing toilets. Investigate using waterless urinals or sensor operated units. Cyclic flushing urinals are the most inefficient type of toilet flushing. Replacing them with sensor operated flushing units will result in major cost savings (e.g Savings of up to $3,000 per year for each cistern, up to a 70% reduction in water use and payback periods of less than six months for high use units.)

Cooling. Recycle water flow to cooling towers or replace water-cooling systems with natural convection systems or air-cooled equipment.

Laundries. Install a rinse-water recycle system. Consider installing continuous-batch (tunnel) washers. Purchase clothes washers with a high water efficiency or water conservation rating.

Bathrooms. Install control systems that will limit excessive water use.

Extra meters. Installing extra water meters may enable large water users to better monitor all your water using processes.

Green plumbers. Consider using a green plumber when hiring contractors. These professionals have received training in water efficient products and their installation. See for further information.

Rebates. Many state and local governments and water utilities offer business water saving programs while some offer rebates and grants to businesses installing water saving measures. For example in Victoria rebates are available for installing checkmeters, industrial trigger nozzles, rainwater tanks and flow controls. For more information on rebates go to the relevant authority in your state. The Smart Water website provides useful links: links.asp?PageID =618&snav=0

Additional Benefits

Reduced operating costs. Your business can make savings through reductions in water consumption and energy consumption as well as costs associated with wastewater disposal.

Conserving water resources. Businesses that reduce their water consumption, ensure that they conserve water resources.

Establish 'green' credentials. By acting in an environmentally responsible manner and reducing the consumption of water, your business will be able to promote itself as an environmentally aware good corporate citizen.

Water Efficiency Fundamentals

Useful website:

To be mailed a copy of this fact sheet or any of our other fact sheets, please call us on 02 6274 1229 or e-mail us on

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