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  • Many people around the world live with huge water challenges and have to prioritise their water uses every day.

    In Aotearoa New Zealand, we are lucky to not have to think about water priorities often, with reliable supplies of clean treated water provided to our taps. Most people on municipal water supplies have few water challenges, but what if it wasn’t this way? Carrying out a water challenge with limited water amounts is useful to help students appreciate that our priorities for water use may change according to how much water we have available.

    Rights: Smart Water

    Water use priorities

    When water resources are scarce or when we want to be good stewards of this finite resource, it’s vital to consider how we prioritise how we use water.

    In this cross-curricular activity, students take part in a water challenge to:

    • calculate their daily water use at home and at school
    • participate in a water for a day challenge
    • consider water use priorities when making decisions.

    This activity is part of a suite of resources that support Smart Water – a context for learning, which provides students and teachers with opportunities to connect with water and learn more about drinking water in the Waikato region. The science and mātauranga concepts that underpin Smart Water are transferable to other locations in Aotearoa New Zealand.

    By the end of this activity, students should be able to:

    • investigate their daily water use at school and at home
    • calculate water use using numeracy skills
    • participate in a water challenge, making decisions about how to prioritise water use.

    Download the Word file (see link below).

    Nature of science

    This activity supports the Nature of Science ‘Participating and contributing’ strand. Students explore various aspects of an issue and make decisions about personal actions.

    Related content

    Smart Water – a context for learning groups Smart Water resources into key science and teaching concepts that underpin water conservation.

    Rivers and Us – a context for learning has pedagogical information and links to numerous resources that explore water use and water quality.

    Why is water important? Find out in this article.

    Activity ideas

    Other activities in Smart Water:

    • Getting to know water collects students’ prior knowledge and experiences of freshwater as the starting point to form an inquiry plan.
    • Water in nature explores states of matter in the water cycle.
    • Te mana o te wai explores the concept of mauri – the health and wellbeing of a waterway.
    • Water in the Waikato explores the major freshwater features and sources of water for the Waikato region.
    • Global water perspectives explores water availability and water stress around the world, with comparison and reflection on Aotearoa New Zealand’s situation.
    • Getting water ready to drink explores the drinking water treatment process.
    • Water issues and effects explores water issues in the Waikato region, their effects and alternative possibilities.
    • Being smart with water uses the knowledge gained from the ongoing inquiry to make a difference in how we use water.

    Useful links

    Visit Smart Water for water level alerts, water saving tips and more.

    The Guardian lists the typical values for the volume of water required to produce common foodstuffs in table and spreadsheet formats.

    World Data Lab has an interactive global water scarcity timeline.


    This resource has been produced with the support of Smart Water.

    Rights: Smart Water

    Smart Water

    Smart Water is a partnership between Hamilton City Council, Waipā District Council and Waitomo District Council. Aiming to foster a greater understanding and appreciation of water from source to tap, it supports schools, organisations and the community to use water sustainably.

      Published 10 May 2022 Referencing Hub articles
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