Kids and schools lead the way in water savings

Posted 15 August 2018

A student drinking waterVictorian schools have helped save 5.7 billion litres of water across the state since 2012 – enough to sustain Geelong’s water needs for about three months. 

More than 1000 Victorian schools have signed up to the Schools Water Efficiency Program (SWEP), which provides them with tools to monitor water consumption and teaches students how to identify and repair leaks and reduce water waste.

As part of the program, schools have a data logger installed on their water metre that shows exactly how much water is being used. This data is uploaded to a website where students and teachers can track water use and identify any problems.

SWEP is part of the Victorian Government’s Water for Victoria plan, which aims to improve water efficiency and the management of water resources. Minister for Water Lisa Neville said it is an example of the state’s children and teachers leading the way in water savings and setting an example for the rest of the community.

“This outstanding program is saving water and provides a great opportunity for students to learn more about the role they can play in conserving water,” Neville said.

“The program is a great opportunity to educate our young people about the importance of saving water and the value of water to communities.”

Along with water savings, the program has had financial benefits for participating schools, including Wodonga Secondary College in the state’s northeast.

Within days of signing up to SWEP, data loggers revealed the school had a substantial issue, with a leak of approximately 1200 litres per hour, or 20 litres per minute. The SWEP team contacted the school’s business manager John McVean, who confirmed there was no evidence of excessive usage such as a broken toilet or muddy patches on the school grounds.

Further investigation revealed a small crack in a boiler pipe running under the school. The result was thousands of litres of water leaking into the ground, something that could have continued unnoticed for some time. Once the leak was located it was repaired and reduced the school’s leakage by 90%. 

McVean said the program highlighted the need for schools to inspect their facilities regularly.

“Using SWEP we were able to detect and act on this leak quickly where we wouldn’t have known about it previously until we received our water bill and been shocked by the cost of our water use.”

Solar monitoring has also been added to the SWEP program, allowing schools to monitor their electricity usage.

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