Could showering for just one minute less save drought-affected NSW 45 million litres of water per day?

By Tiffanie Turnbull and Louise Evans

The Statement

“If everybody in Sydney can have a shower for one minute less, that’s 45 million litres of water saved.”

NSW Water Minister Melinda Pavey. May 31, 2019.

The Analysis

On the eve of water restrictions coming into effect in greater Sydney, NSW Water Minister Melinda Pavey encouraged everyone to reduce their water use in addition to observing the new regulations. [1]

AAP FactCheck examined Ms Pavey’s claim that 45 million litres of water could be saved per day if everyone in Sydney showered for a minute less.

Stage one water restrictions come into effect in Sydney for the first time in over a decade on June 1. Sydney was experiencing some of the lowest dam inflows since 1940, Sydney dam levels were at 53 per cent across all 11 dams and 63.3 per cent of NSW in declared drought affected. [2] [3]

The stage one restrictions will apply in the Sydney, Illawarra and Blue Mountains regions and target outdoor water use. They require all hoses to have trigger nozzles, any watering must be done in the early morning or late afternoon, sprinklers and watering systems are prohibited and vehicles, trailers, boats or buildings can only be washed with a bucket. [2]

According to Sydney Water, the city consumes about 11 billion litres of water per week, 70 per cent of all the water is used at home and each person uses about 200 litres each day. It advised taking shorter showers is one of the easiest ways to restrict water use. [4] [5]

Regular showers use about 18 litres per minute while three-star Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) water-saver shower heads use around nine litres per minute. [5] [6]

The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimated the population of the Greater Sydney region was 5,230,330 in 2018. [7]. Not everyone however would have showers, with a percentage of infants, elderly and others taking baths instead.

If 5,230,330 people spent a minute less each in the shower, the water saving would be over 94 million litres each day, or about 47 million litres using a three-star WELS rated shower head.

A spokesperson for Ms Pavey told AAP FactCheck the figure the Minister used for her calculation on shower use was nine litres a minute and she rounded down the population to five million.

Based on these figures, AAP FactCheck found Ms Pavey’s claim 45 million litres of water could be saved by everyone showering for a minute less to be true. The real amount of water saved would likely be higher however and could be over 90 million litres a day.

The Verdict

  • True - The checkable claim is true.

The References

1: ‘Government looking at new ways to secure water supply, says Water Minister’. The Alan Jones Breakfast Show. 2GB. May 31, 2019:

2: ‘Sydney facing first water restrictions in a decade as drought grips New South Wales’. by Alexandra Spring. The Guardian Australia. May 28, 2019:

3: ‘Combined Drought Indicator’. NSW Department of Primary Industries. May 31, 2019:

4: ‘Water restrictions loom for Sydney as drought continues to impact on dam levels’. by Kevin Nguyen. ABC. May 5, 2019:

5: ‘Water use & conservation’. Sydney Water:

  • First published May 31, 2019 16:15 AEST