Factsheet: Urban waterways

Urban communities have an impact on water quality in different ways to rural communities. If you live in an urban area there are a number of simple steps you can take to reduce your impact on nearby rivers and streams.

  • Pick up any litter you see around the streets, such as cans, plastic bags and cigarette butts
  • Pick up your dog's droppings. Washed into our rivers as storm water they increase bacteria levels in rivers and the sea
  • If you can, clean your car on the lawn - ideally without carwash solutions. Or, take it to a car wash
  • Sweep up grass clippings and leaves and put them on your garden, rather than hosing them into drains
  • Clean paint brushes in the laundry sink, or in a bucket that you tip somewhere in your garden
  • Leave small left-overs of paint and solvents to dry rather than pouring them down the drain
  • Take household chemicals, waste oil etc. to the specific sections at official landfills. Shovel up soil, rubbish and cement when you build
  • Join a community group to help restore a stream or clean a beach

Conserve water by:

  • avoid watering your garden during the hottest time of the day
  • fix any leaking taps
  • Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth or shaving.
  • Consider installing a water-saving shower head. These are stocked by plumbing suppliers and some hardware stores, and can halve the amount of water you use in the shower.
  • Water use in toilets can be reduced by up to 40% with the use of a dual flush cistern, or by putting a weight (like a half-full lemonade bottle or half a brick) in the cistern.
  • Make sure you have a full load when you turn on the washing machine, or set it at half level for smaller loads. A washing machine uses about 150 litres of water for one cycle.
  • If you have a dishwasher, use it only for full loads or once a day. Each load uses 60 litres of water.
  • When you buy a new appliance that uses water, look for the AAA Water Conservation rating. This rating refers to the water use efficiency of the appliance.

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