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Turn off the taps: Water Night to focus Australian minds on water-use

How many times a day do you reach for the tap? It’s a lot more often than you think, according to recent water-efficiency research.

Australians are being invited to participate in a national water appreciation event to raise awareness around habitual water-use.

Organised by Smart Approved WaterMark — the one-stop shop for water efficiency, Water Night will be held starting on Thursday 22 October, during National Water Week. Running from 5pm to 5am, the event encourages Australians not to use running water, but to survive for one night on just one bucket of water.

Smart Approved WaterMark CEO Chris Philpot said the event is all about helping Australians become aware of how much water they use without thinking about it.

“The event is all about taps, and about how we don’t think about using water within our homes. The objective is for every Australian to see for themselves how often they reach for the tap and use water everyday,” Philpot said.

“We launched some research this year on 22 March, World Water Day, which identified that we are all very much on auto-pilot when we use water.

“But the results of our study really drove the point home: 55% of Australians are addicted to using taps, and 65% of Australians panic if their taps stop working.”

Philpot said the research revealed a big opportunity: getting young people to understand the link between water use in the home and where it comes from.

“We found that Gen Z really are not at all water literate. They don’t really think about where their water comes from,” he said.

“But, on the flip side, we also know that Gen Z are the most environmentally aware. They are the most willing to take action and take responsibility for their place within the environment. So there is a really big opportunity to help them become more water literate.

“If we can get them to participate in a water deprivation activity, then that could help change their perceptions about water and help them to do the right thing in terms of water use.”

Changing values

Water Night invites all Australians to limit their use of taps for one night, and to start the journey of valuing water more, Philpot said, but there are a few cheats available.

“We can’t tell people not to use any water for the night. Water is such an essential resource,” he said.

“The caveats to this challenge are that participants are allowed to fill up bottles for drinking, to use the toilet — although we encourage a half flush — and to use water to clean hands, which is crucial in ensuring COVID-safe practices.

“It doesn't necessarily need to be a bucket, either, but we are encouraging people to limit their use of water during Water Night to about nine litres, which can be used to cook dinner, and to bathe with. It’s a way to discourage the use of running water from the tap.”

So, how do you get involved? Smart Approved WaterMark is encouraging registration for the event and has designed an array of Water Night tools to help people curb the urge to turn on their tap.

“We are encouraging everyone to register for the event and get involved by way of posting to social media and sharing the experience online,” he said.

“But we know people will still want to use their taps during the evening, even though it goes against the rules. We know it's very hard to break that behaviour. People will still be reaching for their taps. It is such an automatic behaviour.

“To help with this, we have developed a few tools. We have designed tap guardians, which are fun little characters that can be printed, coloured in, cut out and hung around your tap. They work as a reminder to avoid turning on the tap.

“We have also designed the brake bracelet. It’s like a watch that's worn around the wrist. When you reach for the tap, the bracelet acts as a reminder to break the habit of accessing water habitually.”

For more information on Water Night, including access to tools and registration, visit