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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp

23 May 2003

Green Light for Water Efficiency Labelling

The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, today welcomed an agreement by Commonwealth, State and Territory governments to develop a national plan for mandatory water efficiency labelling of household fittings and appliances.

Environment ministers, meeting at the Environment Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC) in Melbourne, also agreed to investigate the introduction of minimum water efficiency standards and to review guidelines for urban water reuse and recycling as part of a coordinated national response to better utilising and conserving scarce water resources.

"As the drought continues to plague many parts of Australia and water restrictions are tightened, all of us, regardless of where we live, must do more to conserve this precious resource," Dr Kemp said.

"Through labelling of showerheads, toilets, washing machines and dishwashers, householders will able to make informed judgements about water efficiency of various appliances and fittings.

"In addition, governments will explore the possible introduction of water-efficiency standards to ensure water conservation is given utmost consideration during the design of water-based devices."

Currently, Australians consume more than 24,000 gigalitres of water every year - approximately 48 times the volume of Sydney Harbour, with 21% of this used in urban and industrial settings.

EPHC ministers received a feasibility study on mandatory water efficiency labelling that indicates labelling and standards would encourage significant reductions in urban water consumption.

The report estimated probable water savings from labelling high water-use appliances would be 58,300 million litres per annum or 4.7% of total household water consumption in Australia. This would then translate to savings for consumers of more than $300 million between now and 2016.

"The feasibility study showed that by fitting a AAA-rated showerhead, we can save more than one-quarter of the water used by conventional all-directional showerheads," Dr Kemp said.

"And AAA-rated washing machines save more than 50% of the water used by conventional machines, which is substantial given that washing machines account for a quarter of household indoor water use."

Funding for the water efficiency labelling scheme was also set aside by the Howard Government as part of the $40 million Sustainable Cities package announced in the 2003-2004 Budget.

Dr Kemp said an agreement by Ministers to review and update national guidelines for urban water reuse and recycling was an important part of the long-term solution to the water shortage problem.

"To help ease the pressure on potable water supplies, a working committee will explore ways to improve our use of household grey water, stormwater and rainwater and water reclaimed from treated sewage, for non-potable uses," Dr Kemp said.

The feasibility study draft report is available at:

Media Contact:
Catherine Job Dr Kemp's office (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400

Commonwealth of Australia