Permanent Water Use Rules

Effective 1 December 2012, Stage 1 water restrictions are lifted, but Permanent Water Use Rules remain in effect.

Permanent Water Use Rules - Understanding the change

Permanent Water Use Rules are a set of common sense rules that help to ensure the water efficient practices adopted by the Melbourne community are maintained into the future.

What are the Permanent Water Use Rules?

The rules are easy to follow and reflect the views of the community by clearly stating that wasteful practices such as hosing down paved areas and watering in the heat of the day are not acceptable.

Under Permanent Water Use Rules, you no longer have set watering days however, there are set watering times when using watering systems.

Permanent Water Use Rules

Read the following table to find out how you can legally use water around your home.
Activity Guidelines
Watering days There are no set watering days.

Watering times (applicable for the use of watering systems)

Watering systems can only be used to water gardens and lawns in between the hours of 6 pm and 10 am, any day of the week.

Public gardens, lawns and playing surfaces can use a watering system between 6 pm – 10 am, any day of the week or water in accordance with an approved Water Use Plan.
Watering systems for public gardens or lawns must be fitted with a rain or soil moisture sensor.

Lawns Watering systems may be used to water lawns only between the hours of 6 pm and 10 am. Exemptions apply if installing warm season grass or applying fertilisers. Visit warm season grass
Washing windows You can wash windows using a hand held hose fitted with a trigger nozzle.
Trigger nozzles must be used A hand held hose must be fitted with a trigger nozzle and hoses must be in good condition and free of leaks.

No set watering times for hand watering

You may water residential or commercial gardens and lawns as needed with a hose fitted with a trigger nozzle – at any time, on any day of the week.

No hosing paved areas

Hosing down driveways, paths, concrete and other paved areas is not permitted.

You can use a hose fitted with a trigger nozzle or a high pressure cleaning device to remove stains from hard surfaces once a season (every three months).

Fountains or water features You can fill and operate your fountain or water feature as long as it recirculates the water.
Car washing

You can continue to use a handheld hose fitted with a trigger nozzle when washing your car, in addition to a bucket or high-pressure cleaning device.

You can continue to use a water efficient commercial car wash.

Pools and spas You can fill or top up pools and spas as needed.
  • Why is Melbourne moving to Permanent Water Use Rules?

    Melbourne’s water storages are over 81% and Melbourne’s water utilities feel we can comfortably exit restrictions and return to Permanent Water Use Rules. 

    Melbourne’s water businesses will continue to work on options that build resilience into the system including water efficiency and alternative water projects.  And it is still important that we maintain a strong water efficiency ethic within the community.

  • How was the decision made to lift restrictions?

    In making the recommendation to lift Stage 1 restrictions, the Melbourne water utilities have referenced the Water Outlook – a framework introduced for making decisions on water supply and demand each year.

    According to the Water Outlook, when storage levels are 54.1% or greater, then Melbourne’s water supply can deliver up to a five year supply of water.  Given storages are currently over 81%; we can comfortably exit restrictions and return to Permanent Water Use Rules.

  • What is the Water Outlook?

    The Water Outlook is a new approach to water management in Melbourne, and looks at the performance of the water supply system and trends in water use. It also considers potential stream flows and how they impact on the amount of water the supply system can sustainably deliver over the short and long term. This approach will ensure resilience is built into the water supply system, even in times of plenty. 

  • Does this mean that I can go back to using water however I want?

    No, Permanent Water Use Rules apply, and these rules reflect the views of the community.  Melburnians have changed the way they value water and wasteful practices such as hosing down paved areas and watering in the heat of the day are no longer acceptable.

  • Why do the rules only relate to outdoor water use?

    Permanent Water Use Rules target discretionary water use which commonly occurs outside of the home. In an unrestricted year, outdoor water use can amount to 20% of household water consumption.

  • Why don’t we just stay in Stage 1 – it’s not arduous and people are used to it?

    Significant rainfall combined with the water savings Melburnians made through water restrictions has helped Melbourne’s water storages to recover to a level that is secure and can deliver up to five years supply of water.

  • How long will Melbourne be on Permanent Water Use Rules?

    Permanent Water Use Rules set the baseline for water efficient behaviour that we expect all Victorians / Melburnians to embrace. These rules will remain in place unless more stringent staged water restrictions are required and added to them.

  • Was there any public consultation before the rules were introduced?

    These rules were reviewed statewide and the metropolitan water utilities consulted the community and key stakeholders.  The review resulted in some changes being made to make the rules simpler to understand and to follow, while still ensuring water is used efficiently.

  • I want to fill my pool or spa. What do I have to do?

    Under Permanent Water Use Rules you can fill your pool or spa using either an automatic top-up device or a hand held hose fitted with a trigger nozzle.

  • Can the ‘kids’ use slip n’ slides and other outdoor toys?

    Yes, outdoor water toys are permitted at any time.

  • Do Permanent Water Use Rules also affect commercial and industrial customers?

    Yes – Permanent Water Use Rules affect how commercial and industrial customers use water outdoors.

  • Can windows, roofs and building facades in homes be cleaned with a hose?

    Yes – you may use a bucket, a high pressure cleaning unit or a hand held hose fitted with a trigger nozzle.  For construction or renovation purposes, a high pressure cleaning device can be used.

  • Can I clean hard surfaces?

    No, except where it is required to ensure health and safety or, if staining has developed, then once a season.

  • I own a small business - how do Permanent Water Use Rules affect me?

    Permanent Water Use Rules apply to both residential and business customers.

    Water used in production processes, that is for internal use or as part of product manufacture remains unrestricted.