Climate change means it’s more important than ever to save water for when it’s needed most. In winter, we can let nature water our gardens and switch our sprinklers off to make big water savings.

The Winter Sprinkler Switch-off runs throughout winter from 1 June to 31 August every year. The Switch-off is mandatory for all all scheme and bore water users in Perth, Mandurah, and some parts of the South West and Great Southern. Both businesses and households are included. You can check if you’re included using the tool below.

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Why switching off matters

If we all work together and switch off our sprinklers, we’ll save around 5 billion litres of water this winter.

For over a decade now, over 90% of Western Australians have shown their support by switching off before 1 June and letting mother nature take care of their gardens, saving water for our drier months.

Winter brings cooler temperatures and lower evaporation rates, meaning the plants in our gardens don’t need as much water. Most lawns also go dormant over winter, so you can leave your sprinklers off and let the rain take care of your lawn and garden instead.

Even throughout the year, your garden isn’t as thirsty as you think. The water needs of your lawn and garden change with the seasons. Adjust your sprinkler run times with the ‘Seasonal Adjustment’ setting on your irrigation controller.

What if I don’t switch-off?

The switch-off has been a permanent water saving initiative since 2010, and when everyone does their bit we bank significant water savings that can be used for the warmer months that follow.

Anyone in the Winter Sprinkler Switch-off area spotted using their sprinklers between 1 June and 31 August risks a $100 fine. Our inspectors are out 7 days a week and all complaints are investigated.

Bore water is just as precious as tap water and a resource that should be used wisely. If our inspectors see a bore user using their sprinklers during the Winter Sprinkler Switch-off period they will pass on the breach to the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, who issue infringements and are responsible for bore water licensing. There are some exemptions for bore water use, such as those using bore water for operational purposes.

For more information, you can read the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation’s FAQs.

Winter Sprinkler Switch-off and businesses

Winter Sprinkler Switch-off is mandatory for both households and businesses.This includes licensed groundwater users such as local governments, schools, golf courses, government departments, universities, TAFE campuses, major parks, race grounds and businesses that irrigate areas of non-commercial turf, lawn and gardens.

The exceptions to this are active sporting locations, such as schools and local government ovals, which are permitted to irrigate during winter due to their frequent use, safety considerations and amenity planting.

New gardens and testing your irrigation

For a new lawn or garden you need to apply for a watering exemption to use your sprinklers during the Winter Sprinkler Switch-off period. You'll need to meet the conditions applicable to your exemption or be at risk of a fine up to $500. Breaches are the responsibility of the property owner, not the person who installed the lawn, plants or sprinkler system.

We advise you to check your irrigation system after a power black-out. If you need to test your irrigation system, following a black-out, repair or installation, please visit the testing your irrigation page to find out when you can undertake the testing and what you need to know.

If you have a bore connected to your irrigation system, maintenance testing is permitted during the Winter Sprinkler Switch-off. Find out what you can do here.

Report a breach

You can report a sprinkler breach at any time by completing our sprinkler breach form.

Frequently asked questions

Winter Sprinkler Switch-off does not apply to irrigation systems that use water collected by rainwater tanks. It only applies to scheme and bore water users in Perth, Mandurah and parts of the South West and Great Southern regions. However, we do encourage everyone to irrigate only when necessary, regardless of the source.

You could still receive a fine. A malfunctioning irrigation controller is not an excuse for not complying with the Winter Sprinkler Switch-off. We encourage you to check your irrigation system – especially after a power blackout.

LGAs have a water licence allocated to them by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation. The conditions of this licence do include them in the Winter Sprinkler Switch-off. However there are exceptions for maintaining high use active sporting grounds and also for bore testing. This will vary between LGAs.

Most LGAs take innovative steps to ensuring their water use is as careful and sustainable as possible. This may include weather smart irrigation, hydro zoning and clever plant and lawn selection.

Get in touch with your local LGA to learn more about their water management strategy.