Information about typical water usage for activities, and how you can manage your water use.

Water is not an unlimited resource and we need to use it wisely. Water use by Selwyn households is very high – the average "household" uses over 1,000 litres per day while typical consumption for a New Zealand household is around 675 litres per day by comparison.

Water is not an unlimited resource and we want to encourage all users to use water in a sustainable way.

How much water is available?

Regional councils collect information about how much water is available and manage resource consents for those wishing to take water from rivers or groundwater supplies.

94% of the volume of groundwater available to be consented in Canterbury is already consented for use. (Source: LAWA website)

How much water do we use?

This chart shows the amount of water typically used for different household activities.


Water Used



50 to 120 litres (half full)

5 - 12

Shower (8 minutes)

70 to 160 litres


Front-loading washing machine

23 litres per kg of dry clothing

4 - 5

Leaking tap

200 litres per day


Hand-watering by hose

600 to 900 litres per hour

60 - 90

Garden sprinkler

Up to 1500 litres per hour


Car wash with hose

100 to 300 litres

10 - 30

Filling swimming pool

20,000 to 50,000 litres

2,000 - 5,000

Read our water wise guide [PDF, 725 KB] to find out more about household water use and what you can do to reduce your water consumption.

Tips for saving water at home

  • Skip some days watering to keep your plants strong.
    Water your garden and lawn every few days rather than every day. Wetting the soil surface every day encourages roots to develop at the surface, making them more vulnerable to hot dry spells
  • Water for shorter
    For example, setting your system to run for three 5-minute intervals over a couple of hours lets the soil absorb more water than watering for 15 minutes continuously
  • Use a watering can or a hose. It uses less water than a sprinkler and gives you more control to make sure your plants get water where they most need it to grow strong - at the roots not on the leaves.
  • Water what needs it.
    No need to water the berm – let it die off during summer to save money on your water rates and wear and tear on your lawn mower
  • Watch where you water
    Your driveway, footpath, or buildings don't need watering, make sure however you water it's watering the soil.
  • Use mulch or cover the soil with organic matter to keep the soil moist. Mulches protect plant roots from the drying effects of sun and wind and reduce weeds
  • Check for leaks. Inspect hoses and taps indoors and outdoors to check for leaks which waste water.
  • Check you have the right sprinkler head. It should apply water gently so it seeps into the soil. Some sprinklers apply more water than the soil can absorb
  • When planting new additions to your garden choose drought-resistant plants that don’t require a lot of water

More tips on SMART watering at or Watering SMART on Facebook

Harvesting rain water

Installing a rainwater tank is relatively simple and inexpensive, and the benefits are ongoing.

  • Rainwater is a good source of water for using on your garden.
  • It can also be used for washing your clothes, flushing the toilet, and – if it's properly treated – for drinking and other household uses.

More information about how to harvest rain water is available on the MBIE Smarter Homes website

Farming and good water management practices

Good Management Practices (GMPs) can be used on farm to improve water quality (notably nitrogen, phosphorus, sediment, and faecal contaminants). Download the Industry-Agreed Good Management Practices Booklet.

Visit Ecan website for more information on sustainable farming.