The Problem

To improve the prediction of water demand across a network it is important to know the key behavioural drivers of variability in household water use.

What We Did

  • High resolution water use monitoring and behavioural surveys of a representative set of metropolitan Adelaide households was performed.
  • Statistical characteristics (frequency/duration/flow rates) for each household indoor end-use (shower, washing machine, toilet etc) were determined.


Identifying peak demand

  • Average water use was 245 L/p/day for 2012/13. However, there is a high seasonal impact: 153 L/p/day in winter compared to 498 L/p/day in summer with afternoon peaks more prominent in summer.
  • On peak demand days, 20% of households contributed to 50% of the total demand. Developing approaches that target these ‘high peak’ households represents a significant opportunity to reduce peak demand and therefore reduce infrastructure design and operational costs.

Household leakage reduction

  • High resolution meters enabled fast and efficient identification of leaks. Overall leakage volume was estimated to be 5-8% of mean water use, but was deemed an unreliable estimate due to a small number of houses having very large leaks.
  • Household leakage reduction could potentially produce water savings of 5-8%, but a wider range of households needs to be analysed to improve the reliability of the leakage estimate

Indoor end-use analysis

  • Total indoor use was 135L/p/day, with split between showers, toilet and washing machines, taps, and baths/dishwashers as shown in Figure below.  The proportion of total indoor use of the individual end-uses varied considerably between households.
  • Householder perceptions of their use of water per end-use proved very unreliable. Households need greater information and guidance (e.g. monitoring) in relation to their indoor water use so that they can identify cost-effective water savings opportunities.


Indoor end-use for each household

Further Information

“Key Drivers of Household Water Use in SA: Practical Implications” AWA Conference Paper

“Key Drivers of Household Water Use in SA: Practical Implications” AWA Conference Presentation

Arbon et al (2014): Technical Report for Goyder Institute for Water Research 

“Steps at home tap into Water Savings”, Sunday Mail, 5/10/2014

Project Details

University of Adelaide Personnel: Nicole Arbon, Mark Thyer, Kym Beverley, Martin Lambert

Collaborators: CSIRO, SA Water Corporation, Aquiba, Goyder Institute for Water Research