The rules of Drink Just Water

22 February 2017

The Water Challenge - where do you draw the line between a drink and a meal?

This March, we’re asking Australians to make water their only beverage for the Water Challenge. But what makes a drink a drink, and where do you draw the line between a drink and a meal?

There’s only really one rule when it comes to the ‘Drink Just Water’ challenge. And that’s to make water your own beverage for either 14 or 30 days during March. Sounds simple enough, ay?

That means replacing your daily coffee, your after-work beer and your morning tea with nothing but water. 

But there are a few grey areas when it comes to the Water Challenge, and we’re here to clean them up for you.

Days off

Have you got a wedding, party, or birthday scheduled right in the middle of your Water Challenge schedule? Or maybe you’ve got the work week from hell coming up, complete with multiple 6am wake-up calls! 

There’s a few ways to go about this. The first is to use these moments to your advantage – your friends might be shocked to find you drinking nothing but water when there’s an open bar tab, but it’s a great way to get the conversation started about the challenge you’re taking. And a perfect opportunity to earn yourself a few donations!

If you simply can’t resist having a non-water beverage that day, though, we’ll give you permission to put your challenge on pause. But it comes at a cost – for every day you take off, you must either give yourself a $20 donation or add an extra day to the end of your challenge. Sounds fair?

How do you define water?

Water is more versatile than you think. In addition to warm-temperature tap water, there’s spring water, hot water, ice water, mineral water, sparkling water, and soda water. All these variations are permitted!

It’s up to you where you want to draw the line, but our opinion is that flavoured water is only allowed if you’re adding natural fresh fruits, spices or herbs to your drink. We’ve created a few different flavoured water recipes at - you’re more than welcome to try these during March.

To make the challenge fair, we’d advise you to keep your fruit concoctions out of the blender and to not add processed ingredients to your drinks, such as cordial, tea bags, and coffee beans. If your drink resembles juice more than it does water, it probably doesn’t make the cut.


Rules of Water Challenge – OK: Sparkling Water, Water with fresh fruit, Milk in Cereal, Bowl of Soup, a day off – Not OK: Blended Fruit Drink, Tea bags, CordialWaterAid

Is it a meal or a drink?

We don’t always consume fluids in a glass – sometimes they’re in a bowl. So what are the rules for the milk at the bottom of the cereal bowl, or the soup entrée that precedes dinner?

The best question to ask yourself here is: is it a meal or a drink? So long as you’re not overfilling your breakfast bowl with half a litre of milk, or replacing your daily tea with daily cups of chicken soup, we’re happy for you to continue your regular dietary habits.

This is good news for your body when it comes to fruits. While we’re not going to let you have that orange juice you’re craving, there’s nothing stopping you from eating a fresh orange. Processed fruit drinks often contain extra sugar or surpass your recommended daily fruit intake, so munching on an apple or slicing up some pineapple is a much healthier option than a smoothie anyway.

Can I nibble on coffee beans?

It’s a weird habit, but if that’s what you need to keep alert during March, we’re not going to stop you! The same goes with sprinkling milo powder or instant coffee on your ice cream, if you’re desperately craving those flavours. Speaking of ice cream, alcoholic ice cream is acceptable, although we recommend you eat responsibly.

Can I do a shorter or longer version of the campaign?

While we encourage you to either do the challenge for 14 or 30 days, you have the option of choosing a shorter or longer duration when registering on our website. We know some people who are taking the challenge for just a week, while others who are committing themselves to a two-month slog. You could always try the challenge for a week, and extend it if you’re finding it easier than you thought.

You can start and end your challenge on whatever days you like, but we’ll be encouraging the thousands of Australians who are signing up to kick things off on 1 March.

The spirit of the campaign

At the end of the day, the most important thing about the Water Challenge is that you’re undertaking it in good spirits (but not the top shelf kind). As long as you’re making a sacrifice and raising funds and awareness for the 650 million people who still lack access to safe water, we’re happy!

Drink Just Water is one of three challenges you can do as part of WaterAid’s Water Challenge. Sign up to Drink Just Water at or visit to check out the other options.