Permanent Water Use Rules provide Melburnians with greater flexibility in how water can be used every day.

using water in the gardenMelburnians have done a fantastic job conserving water in recent years and are to be congratulated on their efforts.

In light of our recovering water storages (74.2% on 25 March 2014) and the community's ongoing commitment to water efficiency, the Melbourne water industry has made the decision to move to Permanent Water Use Rules.

Permanent water use rules were put in place as of 1 December 2012. Here's a summary of what that means for households. Exemptions are available.

Residential and commercial gardens and lawns

Hand watering
You can water residential or commercial gardens and lawns at any time, on any day, using a hand held hose fitted with a trigger nozzle.

Watering systems
You can water gardens and lawns using a watering system (manual, automatic, spray or dripper) only between 6pm and 10am, any day of the week.

Public gardens, lawns and playing surfaces

Hand watering
Public gardens, lawns and playing surfaces can be watered at any time, on any day using a hand held hose fitted with a trigger nozzle.

Watering systems
Public gardens, lawns and playing surfaces can use a watering system between 6pm and 10am, any day of the week or be watered 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.

Hosing down hard surfaces

You cannot hose down hard surfaces including driveways, paths, concerete, tiles, timber decking and other paved areas except where cleaning is required, or if there is an accident, fire, health hazard, safety hazard or other emergency. 

You can use a high pressure cleaning unit, or if such a unit is not available, a hose fitted with a trigger nozzle, or a bucket to remove stains from hard surfaces once a season (every three months).

You can also use a hose fitted with a trigger nozzle in the course of construction or renovation.

Window washing

You can wash windows with a bucket, high pressure cleaning unit or a hand held hose fitted with a trigger nozzle at any time. 

Vehicle washing

You can wash your car, boat or other vehicle at home using a high pressure cleaning unit, a hand held hose fitted with a trigger nozzle or a bucket at any time. 

Pools and spas

You can fill or top up pools and spas.

Fountains and water features

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

The above rules do not apply to the use of recycled, reclaimed, rain or grey water, except where it is supplemented in any way by drinking water.

Exemptions and penalties

Exemptions to Permanent Water Use Rules in special circumstances are available if you have a medical condition or disability. Read more about exemptions.

Our first priority is to inform everyone of the rules. While Permanent Water Use Rules must be followed, all water retailers will continue to rely on the public to report any suspected breaches. Yarra Valley Water customers can call 1300 304 688 to report a breach. When necessary, suspected breaches will be investigated.  Read this fact sheet to find out more about offences and penalties.

Permanent Water Saving Plan

Our Permanent Water Saving Plan (PDF 124KB) details basic water saving behaviours, commonly called Permanent Water Use Rules, that help avoid unnecessary water waste.  These rules are a common sense approach to long term water saving and have recently been updated to ensure consistency statewide.  

Water Outlook

To provide the community with more information, a Water Outlook is published in early December each year based on the status of the water supply system at 30 November.  This Water Outlook includes an analysis of the performance of the water supply system and trends in how water is being used. It also includes consideration of environmental variables such as potential streamflows and how these can impact on the amount of water the supply system can sustainably deliver over the short and long term.  For ease of communication, system performance will be reported as either high (Melbourne's water supply is secure), medium (we need to take action to secure water supplies) or low (emergency circumstances have been experienced and severe water restrictions are needed to assist in maintaining supplies). View the latest Water Outlook report.

Drought Response Plan

The process for how water restriction decisions are made is contained in a document called a Drought Response Plan.


Under the Water Act each water utility is required to manage water restriction rules under a By-law. Our By-law incorporates four stages of water restrictions and specifies what can and cannot be done when each stage of restriction is in place. If a stage of restriction is in place, it supercedes Permanent Water Use Rules.