Offical Nebraska Government Webpage
A Series of Factsheets on New Construction Issues
Why conserve water? Wise use of water is a good idea for many reasons:
  • On a large scale, wise water use protects our environment and preserves a natural resource.
  • On a personal level, wise water use saves money by reducing water bills.
  • On the community level, wise water use will lengthen the life of delivery systems because less stress is placed on the system. Increased water use can overburden municipal and private sewage treatment systems which may result in watering restrictions and higher costs.
  Low Water Use Benefits and Methods
Water Waste Facts
  • On average, North American cities use twice as much water per person as Western European cities and seven times that used in developing countries.
  • In the United States, five billion gallons of water are flushed down toilets each day. Use of low flow toilets would cut use to 1.5 billion gallons. Replacing standard 3.5 gallon toilets with 1.6 gallon toilets would save an average household 12,000 gallons of water per year.
  • How is water used in homes? A recent evaluation in Lincoln, Nebraska showed that, on average, a family of four uses 300 to 400 gallons of water each day. That 300 to 400 gallons average water use is attributed to the following uses:
    • Toilet flushing - 42 percent
    • Showers and Bathing - 30 percent
    • Laundry - 14 percent
    • Dishwashing - 6 percent
    • Drinking and cooking - 5 percent
    • Bathroom sinks - 3 percent

Where does water go after it is used? Most municipalities operate and maintain water treatment facilities. The city of Lincoln's Theresa Street water plant treats about 30 million gallons of water a day. During the summer when water use increases, Lincoln's water system delivers 80 to 90 million gallons a day to customers.

Steps To Reduce Water Use In Your Home

There are any number of ways water use can be reduced around the home:

  1. Reduce total indoor water use by installing efficient fixtures and appliances.
  2. Have an efficient and drought resistant landscape that incorporates xeriscape techniques. Other suggestions include planting low-water use turf and using microclimate improvements.
  3. Control runoff from the property using appropriate guttering and landscape designs.
  4. Have a responsible irrigation schedule.
  5. Be frugal with water use.
Nebraska Green Building Program
Builders participating in the Energy Office's Nebraska Green Building Program are encouraged to reduce water use during all phases of the construction of their homes as well as specify and install low water use fixtures and landscaping that will help to reduce water use in the future. Builders of Nebraska Green Building Certified Homes are required to install certain items or utilize efficient construction techniques. Builders may also earn credits in the Low Water Use category by including some of the options below:
  • Shower heads have a maximum flow rating of 2.5 gallons per minute*
  • Toilets have a maximum water usage rating of 1.6 gallons per flush*
  • Permeable paving materials are used in at least 60 percent of all paving areas such as walkways, patios and driveways
  • Low water use grasses such as blue gramma, buffalo or fescue are planted
  • A valved distribution system is installed in the home
  • A xeriscaped landscape is installed in more than 80 percent of the property's non-paved areas
  • The kitchen sink has a maximum flow rating of 2.0 gallons per minute
  • A front loading horizontal axis clothes washer is included in the home
  • The home has a water conserving irrigation system with rain-override timer or soil moisture sensor; other features include drip irrigation, soaker hoses and bubblers and zoned irrigation with separate valving for plants' needs
  • A graywater irrigation system is installed in the home
  • Copper piping is used for all potable water lines
  • The site is graded to direct water away from foundations to a harvesting area that prevents water runoff
  • No garbage disposal is included
*Required in the Nebraska Green Building Program.
  Low Water Use and Drought Tolerant Plants Recommended in Nebraska 

Aspen Trees

Common Name Scientific Name Avg. Height

Amur Maple

Acer ginnala

25 feet

Norway Maple

Acer platanoides

50 feet


Carya sps.

45 feet

Common Hackberry

Celcis occidentalis

60 feet

Eastern Redbud

Cercis canadensis

20 feet

Thornless Cockspur Hawthorn

Crataegur crusgalli inerinis

20 feet

Washington Hawthorn

Crataegur phaenopyrum

25 feet

Green Ash

Fraxinus pennsylvanica

60 feet

White Ash

Fraxinus americana

80 feet


Ginko biloba

60 feet

Honey Locust

Gelditsia triacanthos inerinis

60 feet

Kentuck Coffeetree

Gyinnocladur dioicur

60 feet


Juniperus spp.

25 – 35 feet

Goldenrain Tree

Koelreuteria paniculata

30 feet

Osage Orange (thornless male)

Maclura pioniera

50 feet


Malur cultivars

15 – 25 feet

Colorado Blue Spruce

Picea pungens

50 feet

Black Hills Spruce

Picea plauca ‘densata’

45 feet

Jack Pine

Pinus banliiana

35 – 40 feet

Austrian Pine

Pinur nigra

50 feet

Ponderosa Pine

Pinus ponderosa

60 feet

Scotch Pine

Pinur sylvestris

60 feet

Douglas Fir

Pseudotsuga inenziesii

50 feet

Scarlet Oak

Quercus coccinea

65 feet

Shingle Oak

Quercus linbricaria

40 feet

Bur Oak

Quercur inacrocarpa

50 feet

Blackjack Oak

Quercur inarilandica

25 feet

Black Oak

Quercus veliitina

55 feet

Swamp White Oak

Quercur bicolor

50 feet

Black Locust

Robinia speudoacadia

60 feet


Tazodiuin distichuin

50 feet

Dogwood and Chokeberry

Common Name

Scientific Name

Avg. Height

Saskatoon Serviceberry

Amelanchier alnifolia

6 feet

Leadplant Amorpha

Ainorpha canescens

8 – 20 feet

Black Chokeberry

Aronia melanocarpa

10 feet

Mentor Barberry

Berberis x inentorensis

7 feet

Japanese Barberry

Berberis thunbergii

7 feet

Siberian Peashrub

Caragana arborescens

10– 15 feet

New Jersey Tea

Ceanothur americanus

3 feet

Flowering Quince

Chaenomeles hybrids

2 – 4 feet

Corneliancherry Dogwood

Cornus mas

20 feet

Gray Dogwood

Cornus racemosa

10 feet


Cotinus coggygria

10 feet

Dwarf Bush-honeysuckle

Diervilla lonicera

3 – 4 feet

Common Witchhazel

Hamamelis virginiana

15 feet


Juniperur chinensis

10 – 15 feet


Kolkwitzia amabilis

6 – 8 feet


Ligustruin species

15 – 20 feet

Blueleaf Honeysuckle

Lonicera horolkowii

15 feet

Emerald Mound Honeysuckle

Lonicera x ‘emerald mound’

2 feet

Amur Honeysuckle

Lonicera inaackii

15 feet

Common Ninebark

Physocarpus opulifolius

10 feet

Mugo Pine

Pinur inugo

5 – 15 feet

Nanking Cherry

Prunur toinentosa

15 feet

Western Sandcherry

Prunur besseyi

4 feet

Scarlet Firethorn

Pyracantha coccinea

6 feet

Fragrant Sumac

Rhus aromatica

6 feet

Missouri Gooseberry

Ribes inissourense

3 feet

Golden or Clove Currant

Ribes odoratuin

8 feet

Rugose Rose

Rosa rugosa

6 feet

Winged Euonymus

Euonymus alatus

20 feet


Forsythia x intermedia

10 feet


or Shrubby Cinquefoil
Potentilla fruticosa

5 feet


Sambucus niegra

8 feet

Vanhoute Spirea

Spiraea x vanhouttei

6 – 8 feet

Indiancurrant Coralberry

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

5 feet

Common Lilac

Syringa vulgaris

10 feet


Viburnuin lantana

10 feet


Viburnuin lentago

25 feet

Blackhaw Viburnum

Viburnuin pruniioliuin

15 feet


Yucca glauca

3 feet

Adam's-needle Yucca Yucca filamentosa

2 feet

Wild Rose

Wildflowers & Perennials (Forbs)

Common Name

Scientific Name

Yarrow Antennaria

Achillea species

Pussytoes Artemisia


New England Aster

Aster novae – angliae

Butterfly Weed

Asclepias tuberosa

False Indigo

Baptisia species

Coreopsis Cultivars

Coreopsis species

Purple Prairie Clover

Dalea purpurea

Purple Coneflower

Echinacea purpurea

Blanket Flower

Gaillarada species


Heinerocallis species

Iris Species

Iris species


Liatris species


Monarda species


Sedum species

Black-Eyed Susan

Rudbeckia hirta


Aquillegia species

Russian Sage

Perovskia atrilicifolia


Seinpervirens species

Buffalo Grass

Common Name

Scientific Name

Buffalograss Festiica

Buchloe dactyloides

Tall Fescue


Fountain Grass
Ornamental Grasses

Common Name

Scientific Name

Big Bluestem

Andropogon gerardii

Sideoats Grama

Bouteloua curtipendula

Feather Reed Grass

Calamagrostis acutifolia

Sand Lovegrass

Reedgrass eragrostis trichodes

Eulalia Grass

Miscanthus sinensis


Panicuin virgatuin



Little Bluestem

Schizachyrium scoparium


Sorghastrum nutans

Low Water Use Benefits and Methods is one in a series of factsheets on issues related to energy and resource efficient construction of new homes and buildings.

Other factsheets and additional information can also be found at:

This fact sheet was partially financed through the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality Litter Reduction and Recycling Program.

Produced by the
Nebraska Energy Office
521 S 14th Street, Suite 300
P.O. Box 95085, Lincoln, NE 68508
Phone 402-471-2867, Fax 402-471-3064

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