School water audit (video transcript)

This is a text transcript for our video on conducting school water audits.

Narrator: Water is our most precious resource. Without it, no person, animal or plant can survive. This video’s all about understanding how your school uses water, and how it could perhaps use less. We’ll show you how to measure water use, detect leaks, find faulty fixtures and write a report. The School Water Audit Guide has more information – and a series of activities in blue for you to complete. So, let’s get started by seeing how much water your school uses.

[Students walking to front of school, one on a skateboard]

Your school’s water supply is fitted with a meter which accurately measures every litre of water used. You’ll find yours somewhere on the boundary near the street. 

[Vision of front of water meter showing numbers in red and black]

Read the numbers from left to right. The black numbers show kilolitres - that’s a thousand litres - and the red numbers show litres.

[Students sitting next to water meter by side of road, filling out worksheet on clipboard]

Starting on a Monday morning, take meter readings for twelve days. Record them on the Daily Water Meter Reading Worksheet. This will show you if there are any leaks in the school.

[Principal standing behind shoulders of small group of students turning over page of water bills and asking them questions]

Next, take a look at your school's water bill. Bills are sent every two months and tell you how much water the school used - and what it cost.

[Close up of students hand with pencil filling out worksheet]

Use the water bills to calculate how much water your school uses in a year. If your school reduced water use by 10%, how much money would it save?

[Flying shot of overhead of school grounds showing oval and buildings]

Your school principal is the person who’s responsible for making sure everything runs efficiently – so why not interview them about how water is managed in the school. 

[Various shots of students using water]

Student: How do students learn about water conservation at school?

Principal: I think the only way we know about our water use at this school is from the accounts that the registrar has to pay and we don’t even talk about that to the students about that, maybe we should?  We don’t even read the water meter, maybe we should?  

Student: Are the water fixtures in the school water efficient?

Principal: Hmmm that’s a hard one because we are an old school and we have some new sections and we have some old sections.  In any of the newer sections of the school we make sure that we replace any taps with water efficient taps.  We make sure that our water fountains have got spring loaded return or they’re push button so that the taps aren’t going to be running longer than are necessary.  In our toilets we still have some old toilets that are single flush, but as those toilets break I make sure we replace them with dual flush systems.

Narrator: Now we've worked out how much water your school uses, let's inspect all the places where water is used – both inside and outside. Divide your group into small teams and make sure each team has a water audit kit. Here’s what you’ll need.

  • Stopwatch
  • Map of school
  • Food dye
  • Measuring jug
  • Rubber gloves
  • Pencil
  • Set of worksheets

[Student filling out worksheet]

Narrator: Each team uses the School Water Audit Worksheet to record details of all the fixtures in areas where water is used. Use a new worksheet for each new area.

[Students walking up stairs towards building

Let’s get started.

[Shot from inside toilet with water leaking]

A leaking toilet can waste up to 73,000 litres of water a year – so it’s important to check every toilet in the school. To see how much water a toilet uses, remove the lid, turn off the water supply valve and mark the water level. Now flush the toilet – using a full flush – and refill the cistern to the line with a measuring jug making a note of the volume of water needed.

Student: Three litres

[Three female students in toilet cubicle with gloves on and clip board recording volumes]

Now repeat the measuring for a half flush.

[Close up of student hand with glove on pushing half flush button]

When you’ve finished, reopen the supply valve and put the lid back on.

[Close up of toilet cistern with lid off and bottle of blue dye being poured in.  The see closer shot of dye hitting water]

If you think the toilet might be leaking, you can check by using a coloured dye – like this. 

[Shot of toilet bowl with water leaking down back into the bowl and the bowl water is a little blue]

Put the dye into the cistern and leave for ten minutes – but don’t flush!  If after ten minutes or more you find the water in the bowl is the same colour as the dye, then your toilet is leaking. 

[Tap dripping slowly]

Did you know one dripping tap can waste up to 10,000 litres of water a year? So your next job is to check every tap in the school.

[Three male students walk into washroom with jug, ipad and clipboard.  Students put the empty jug into the basin under the tap]

To measure a tap’s water flow, turn it on full.

[Close up of student using iPad stopwatch]

Student: 3,2,1, go

Narrator: and put the measuring jug under the tap for ten seconds. 

Student: Stop

Narrator: Turn off the tap and measure the water you’ve collected. 

[Student holding up jug and reading the volume]

Student: 1.75 litres

[Close up of student recording number on worksheet]

Narrator: Then multiply this amount by 6 to give you a litre-per-minute flow rate.  Record this on your School Water Audit Worksheet – along with the type of tap and whether it leaks. 

[Page turning]

Then fill out the Leaking Taps Investigations Worksheet to work out how much water is wasted if taps are left to drip.

[Students drinking from different types of drinking fountains]

Now let’s check the drinking fountains. Measure their flow rate, look for leaks, note the type of taps and record all these details. Watch to see how many times – and for how long - students use the drinking fountains during the day and calculate how much water they use.

[Close of a drinking fountain with plastic bottle being filled]

By the way - filling water bottles is a really good way to save water at your fountains. 

[Close up of students hand turning on tap and washing hands from different taps]

Hand basins and sinks are used for washing hands and cleaning. But how much water are they using? Survey your school to find out.  Also record their flow rates, and make sure you check for those leaking taps along the way. 

[Close up of shower head with shower running]

Showers can use a lot of water – but exactly how much? 

[Three male students enter shower cubicle with jug, clipboard and put jug under shower head and turn on tap]

To measure a shower’s water flow, turn the tap on full and put your measuring jug under the shower-head for ten seconds.  

[Close up of jug filling up and then mobile phone with stopwatch then student hand turning off shower tap]

Turn off the taps and measure the water you’ve collected. 

[Close up of student reading side of measuring jug]

Student: 1 litre

[Vision of student recording onto worksheet on clipboard]

Narrator: Multiply this amount by 6 to give you a litre-per-minute flow rate.

[Close up of student hand recording data onto worksheet]

While you’re there, make a note of the tap types and see if there are any leaks.

[Close up of showerhead with water running]

Installing a water-efficient showerhead in your showers can halve water use as well as cutting heating costs.

[Flying shot of top of school showing school grounds]

Now it’s time to take a look outside – at the grounds and gardens. 

[Various shots of different types garden sprinklers on, student watering small garden with watering can]

Irrigating ovals, lawns and gardens is where most of your school’s water is used - so this is a very important part of your audit.

[shot of gardener digging mulch from heap and putting in wheelbarrow and walking barrow through school grounds past a close up a tap dripping]

Your best source of information is the ground staff, so have a chat with the gardener about how they manage water use in your school

[close up of gardener sitting on chair in garden shed]

Gardener: Mulch is used on all of the garden beds, we acquire our mulch basically through contacting local contractors, who chop down trees in the local area and they drop off mulch at their own convenience.  There are some waterwise plants in the school gardens, the newer plantings that we’ve been able to have a choice, native plants that are good for this area.  They are good for the birds, they are good for the little possums that are around here.

Narrator: Discuss the grassed and garden areas.

Gardener: The soil is improved by using wetting agent, and of course slow release fertilizer.

Narrator: find out when and how they are watered.

Gardener: we use both scheme and bore water at this school. It’s mainly the bore water, especially for the larger areas like the oval and the playgrounds.  We use scheme on the smaller sections of the gardens especially with the drip systems.

[Ovals with sprinklers spraying water then close up of gardener holding up different types of sprinklers]

Narrator: and what sprinkler types are used.

Gardener:  On our school oval we use thee gear driven sprinklers of course to cover a large area.  In the smaller garden beds we use spray head sprinklers. These are totally adjustable for angle and the amount of water that has to be used.

[Close up of worksheet being filled out]

Narrator: Then use this information to fill out The Irrigation In The School Grounds Worksheet.

[Fly over shot of oval to top of Olympic sized pool then shot of pool from the ground]

Narrator: If your school has a swimming pool, calculate how much water it contains.

[Underwater shot of pool]

Narrator: An uncovered pool could lose its entire volume of water in one year through evaporation. 

[Shot of pool cover rolled up at end of pool]

Narrator: Research the cost of a swimming pool cover, and how long it would take to recover the cost through savings on the water bill.

[Classroom shot of students on computers with worksheets in front of them]

Narrator: By now, you’ll have a lot of facts and figures about your school’s water use – and the next step is to summarise your findings. 

[Close up of computer screen showing students working on their reports]

Narrator: Using the Taking Action Worksheet, collate the results from each team to create a list of leaks, broken or inefficient fixtures and wasteful practices for the whole school.  

[Close up of students discussing report and writing results then shots of different parts of the school using water]

Narrator: Now write a report on how much water the school uses, where it’s wasting water – and how much money this is costing the school. 

[Shots of students discussing reports and more shots of computer screens]

Suggest ways to reduce water use – and set short and long-term targets.

[Students at front of classroom presenting report with presentation on large screen behind them]

Narrator: Finally, present your report to the school’s P&C committee or the principal. Explain in your presentation why it’s important to conserve water – and remind them how much money the school could save if they took some simple steps.

[Split screen with 9 small screens showing all the areas of water use in a school]

Narrator: Now you’re a lot wiser about water, don’t forget to spread the water-wise message. You can order posters and stickers to put up around your school to act as a reminder.
And keep the audit going throughout the year by continuing to read the water meter– to keep track of how much water’s being used,– and saved.

[Screen showing title – school water audit and Water Corporation website address]

Good luck running running your own water audit.