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How much water do I use?Whakamahinga wai /Penapenanga wai

How much water does my household use? Even a few small changes can add up to hundreds of litres in water savings each year Here are some water-saving tips to get you going.

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Know our Water Hawke's Bay

We’re encouraging our Hawke's Bay residents to really get to know our water this summer.

To gain a greater understanding and build a better relationship with our unique resource, how we use water, why we need to look after it, and how to do that.

Wise-up on the whys and the ways of smart water use, Hawke’s Bay.

The why

Here in the Hawke’s Bay, we’ve got something pretty special. It’s our precious freshwater – and it connects us all.

Freshwater is a finite resource – we’ve got to look after it. If we take more out than we need, or if we don’t protect it, the whole environment is affected – both above and below ground. So, it’s our responsibility to keep that balance right.

How much water do I use?

This page shows the average daily water use in a home. One bucket holds an average of 10 litres. Use this information to answer the following questions...

  • How much water would you use if you left the garden sprinklers on for two hours?
  • If you had a leaking pipe (1.5mm hole), how many litres of water would you use every day?
  • How much water would you waste if you had a leaky tap and didn't fix it for a week?
  • How much water do you use in a day? What about your whole family?


Function Water Used Buckets
 Dishwashing by hand  12 to 15 litres per wash  1 - 1½
 Dishwasher  20 to 60 litres per wash  2 - 6
 Drinking, Cooking, Cleaning  8 litres per person  ¾ - 1


Function Water Used Buckets
 Toilet  4.5 to 11 litres per flush  7 - 8
 Bath  50 to 120 litres (half full)  5 - 12
 Shower (8 minutes)  70 to 160 litres per 8 minutes  4 - 5
 Handbasin  5 litres  4 - 5
Tap Running (Cleaning Teeth, Washing hands)  5 litres  ½
 Leaking Tap  200 litres  20


Function Water Used Buckets
 Washing Machine (Front Loading)  23 litres per kg of dry clothing  4 - 5
 Washing Machine (Top Loading)  31 litres per kg of dry clothing  5 - 6
 Dripping Tap  200 litres  20


 Function  Water Used  Buckets
 Hand Watering by Hose  600 to 900 litres per hour  60 - 90
 Garden Sprinkler  Up to 1500 litres per hour  150
 Car Wash with Hose  100 to 300 litres  10 - 30
 Filling Swimming Pool  20,000 to 50,000 litres  2,000 - 5,000
 Leaking Pipe (1.5mm hole)  300 litres per day  30

How much water does your household use in one day!! That's a lot of water in just one day!


Saving Water

How much water can you save around your home? The following hints will show you how to save water in and around your house:


  • Scrape, rather than rinse, dishes and utensils before loading into a water efficient dishwasher.
  • If you wash your dishes by hand, use the minimum amount of dish washing detergent and don't leave the water running when rinsing them.
  • When buying a new dishwasher, choose one that is water efficient.
  • Use economy settings for small loads in your dishwasher.
  • Defrost food items in the fridge overnight rather than running water over them.
  • Re-use the water left over from cooked or steamed foods to start a scrumptious and nutritious soup.
  • Install an instant water heater near your kitchen sink so you don't have to run the water while it heats up. This also reduces energy costs.


  • Don't leave the water running while shaving or brushing your teeth.
  • A low flow showerhead can save up to 50 litres of water for each six-minute shower, or up to 20,000 litres of water per person per week.
  • Take shorter showers. A quick shower uses less than quarter of the water used in a bath.
  • Only fill the tub with as much water as is required, you don't need as much in your tub for babies or pets


  • Check for leaks. Put a few drops of food colouring in the toilet cistern and wait. If it appears in the toilet bowl without flushing, you have a leak. You can save up to 2.5 million litres of water (35,000 bathtubs of water) a year by fixing your leaky loo.
  • Use a dual flush system - if you haven't got one, put a brick in the cistern so you use less water.
  • A flush control device, such as a gizmo, will save significant amounts of water on most types of toilet cistern.
  • Don't use the toilet as a rubbish bin by flushing tissues or squashed bugs that should be put in the bin


  • The average garden hose delivers 1000 litres of water in an hour so if you have sprinklers on, don't forget them. Ideally use a timer.
  • Water at cool times of the day - early in the morning is ideal. This is better for the plants and less water is wasted through evaporation.
  • Not watering in windy weather also lessens water evaporation.
  • Soak don't spray every fourth day in summer. This makes plants hardier and encourages the roots to go deeper into the soil to seek out moisture.
  • Adjust sprinklers so they do not spray on paths, driveways, or against buildings.
  • Remove weeds. They compete with your plants for water.
  • Comply with any water restrictions.
  • When you clean your fish tank, use the 'old' nitrogen and phosphorous-rich water on our plants
  • When you give your pet fresh water, don't throw the old water down the drain. Use it to water your trees or shrubs.
  • Use leftover water for houseplants, instead of poruing out a half-empty glass of drinking water.


  • Install covers on pools and spas to reduce water evaporation.
  • Park the car on the lawn when washing it and turn the hose off when soaping.
  • Fix leaky taps with new washers. If it still drips, call a plumber.
  • Report any leaks on the road or the footpath to the Council.
  • Use a broom instead of the hose to clean paths and driveways.
  • Know where your toby valbe is located. This could save water and prevent damage to your home.


  • Remember that washing machines can use up to a bathtub full of water per load.
  • If your machine has a water level adjustment, use it! Otherwise, wait until you have a full load before washing and you'll save up to 10 litres of water for every wash and cut your electricity costs as well.
  • How good is your washing machine? Think about water efficiency next time you are purchasing a new machine. Consider those that offer cycle and load size adjustments. 

Water Efficiency

  • Insulate the hot water pipes, starting from the ot water tank and moving towards the taps.
  • Check your hot water cylinder overflow pipe (on the roof). If the ajax valve isn't working properly, the cylinder will leak hot water - a waste of both water and electricity.
  • Imagine if the water only trickles from the tap.
  • Imagine if you're only allowed to use the washing machine once a week.
  • Imagine if water becomes so precious that it is too precious to waste.

Remind your family to save water. By using water efficient fittings on toilets, taps and washing machines we can reduce the amount of water we use by at least 50 litres per person each day.

There is a very good guide to choosing an energy efficient appliance at

Report any leaks on the road or the footpath to the Council.


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