A NSW Government website

Water Efficiency Program

NSW Water Efficiency Framework

Water efficiency framework is a best practice guide to developing and delivering water efficiency.

Boy having fun playing with water in the garden.

About the framework

The NSW Water Efficiency Framework provides clear steps to design, deliver and review water efficiency programs. This best practice guide has been developed with the water industry and from evidence learnt in the last drought. This guide is designed for government, water utilities, councils and large businesses to use when implementing water efficiency initiatives.

The structure of the framework

The framework consists of 3 phases: plan, implement, and review. It has 5 elements to consider when developing and delivering water efficiency:

  • establishing the water efficiency context
  • analysing the current situation
  • develop a water efficiency response
  • applying the water efficiency response and adapting it.

Each element in the framework consists of 2 to 3 steps. The elements are also supported by 3 enabling factors:

  • stakeholder engagement – who they are how they are been engaged
  • resourcing and governance – who is responsible and funding
  • capturing and sharing knowledge – capacity building.



Establish context

Analyse situation
Develop response
Design and deliver options
Monitor, report, adapt

Understand strategic context

Identify risks and opportunities

Identify options

Undertake pilots and research and development

Evaluate program

Set objectives

Undertake demand analysis

Design and assess options

Detailed design of options


Define boundaries


Develop and evaluate options packages

Implement options


Identify and engage with community and stakeholders

Secure resourcing and ensure governance

Capture and share knowledge

For each of the elements in the framework, we have developed a series of guiding questions. The questions give practical prompts to guide what needs to happen at each step. Evaluation criteria to identify progress towards water efficiency best practice, and where more support or resources can be required is also within the document.


You can download a copy of the overview of the NSW Water Efficiency Framework.

Download the diagram (JPG, 1356.3 KB)


Download the complete framework and guidelines on how to best use it.

Download the framework (PDF, 818KB)

Rating tool

The NSW Water Efficiency Framework rating tool can be used as a workbook to track and self-rate progress towards best practice. As you work through the tool, there’s prompts to enter a rating and record a justification and recommended actions for improvement.

Download the tool (XLS X. 800KB)


Have feedback on the NSW Water Efficiency Framework? You can let us know by emailing water.efficiencyprogram@dpie.nsw.gov.au.

Water Efficiency Opportunities Scan

Water efficiency isn’t one size fits all. The water efficiency options scan identifies a broad range of viable water efficiency options that provide a useful starting point for finding what works for local supply and demand conditions.

The report covers opportunities to increase water efficiency by:

  • using efficient fixtures and fittings, particularly showers, toilets and washing machines
  • exploring new technologies that use digital control to reduce water use, particularly for cooling, irrigation and leakage control
  • leveraging data and digital analytics to design programs that maximise water savings and minimise cost
  • targeting programs to maximising water savings opportunities
  • design standards and regulations to promote ongoing gains.

Water Efficiency Opportunities Scan

Download the report (PDF, 9443.15 KB)