The Hows and Whys...
Using Less Water
Summary
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.
  • 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? An evaluation in 2000 in Lincoln, Nebraska by the city's government 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, Nebraska'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.

low water faucet Ways 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.

Ways to Cut Water Use in New Homes
If you are planning to build a new home, consider these water saving options:

  • 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

Other Resources on Reducing Water Use

Low Water Use and Drought Tolerant Plants Recommended in Nebraska

Trees Trees

Common Name

Scientific Name

Avg. Height

Photos

Amur Maple

Acer ginnala

25 feet

http://new.oplin.org/tree/fact%20pages/maple_amur/maple_amur.html

Norway Maple

Acer platanoides

50 feet

http://new.oplin.org/tree/fact%20pages/maple_norway/maple_
norway.html

Hickory

Carya ovata

60 feet

http://www.ag.auburn.edu/hort/landscape/dbpages/17.html

Common Hackberry

Celtis occidentalis

60 feet

http://new.oplin.org/tree/fact%20pages/hackberry/hackberry.html

Eastern Redbud

Cercis canadensis

20 feet

http://new.oplin.org/tree/fact%20pages/redbud/redbud.html

Thornless Cockspur Hawthorn

Crataegur crusgalli iInerinis

20 feet

www.mpelectric.com/treebook/fact27.html

Washington Hawthorn

Crataegus phaenopyrum

25 feet

http://dcwi.com/~bmills/trees/Rose/Hawthorn/WashingtonHawthorn
/index.htm

Green Ash

Fraxinus pennsylvanica

60 feet

http://new.oplin.org/tree/fact%20pages/ash_green/ash_green.html

White Ash

Fraxinus americana

80 feet

http://dcwi.com/~bmills/trees/Olive/Ash/WhiteAsh/index.htm

Ginko

Ginko biloba

60 feet

http://new.oplin.org/tree/fact%20pages/gingko/gingko.html

Thornless Common Honeylocust

Gelditsia triacanthos inerinis

60 feet

http://dcwi.com/~bmills/trees/Caesalpinia/HoneyLocust/HoneyLocust/
index.htm

Kentuck Coffeetree

Gymnocladus dioica

60 feet

http://www.library.uiuc.edu/vex/toxic/kentucky/kntcky0.htm

Junipers

Juniperus scopulorum

25 – 35 feet

www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu/aginfo/trees/handbook/th-3-157.pdf

Golden Raintree

Koelreuteria paniculata

30 feet

http://new.oplin.org/tree/fact%20pages/goldenrain_tree/
goldenrain_tree.html

Osage Orange (thornless male)

Maclura pomifera

50 feet

http://new.oplin.org/tree/fact%20pages/osage_orange/osage_orange.html

Crabapple

Malus sp.

15 – 25 feet

http://www.oplin.org/tree/fact%20pages/crabapple_flowering/
crabapple_flowering.html

Colorado Spruce

Picea pungens

50 feet

www.hcs.ohio-state.edu/hcs/TMI/Plantlist/pi_ngens.html

Black Hills Spruce

Pinus banksiana‘densata’

45 feet

www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu/aginfo/trees/handbook/th-3-175.pdf

Jack Pine

Pinus banksiana

35 – 40 feet

www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu/aginfo/trees/handbook/th-3-161.pdf

Austrian Pine

Pinus nigra

50 feet

http://www.kansasforests.org/conservation/evergreens/austrianpine.shtml

Ponderosa Pine

Pinus ponderosa

60 feet

http://www.botanik.uni-bonn.de/conifers/pi/pin/ponderosa.htm

Scotch Pine

Pinus sylvestris

40 feet

http://www.ndsu.nodak.edu/ndsu/lbakken/forest/towner_nur/
scotch_pine.htm

Douglas Fir

Pseudotsuga inenziesii

50 feet

www.hcs.ohio-state.edu/hcs/TMI/Plantlist/ps_iesii.html

Scarlet Oak

Quercus coccinea

65 feet

http://www.oplin.org/tree/fact%20pages/oak_scarlet/oak_scarlet.html

Shingle Oak

Quercus imbricaria

40 feet

http://www.oplin.org/tree/fact%20pages/oak_shingle/oak_shingle.html

Bur Oak

Quercus macrocarpa

50 feet

http://dcwi.com/~bmills/trees/Beech/Oak/WhiteOaks/BurOak/index.htm

Blackjack Oak

Quercus inarilandica

25 feet

http://www.oplin.org/tree/fact%20pages/oak_blackjack/
oak_blackjack.html

Black Oak

Quercus velutina

55 feet

http://dcwi.com/~bmills/trees/Beech/Oak/RedOaks/BlackOak/index.htm

Swamp Oak

Quercus bicolor

50 feet

http://www.oplin.org/tree/fact%20pages/oak_swamp_white/
oak_swamp_white.html

Black Locust

Robinia pseudoacacia

60 feet

http://dcwi.com/~bmills/trees/Pea/Locust/BlackLocust/index.htm

Baldcypress

Taxodium distichum

50 feet

http://www.oplin.org/tree/fact%20pages/baldcypress/baldcypress.html

shrubs Shrubs

Common Name

Scientific Name

Avg. Height

Photos

Saskatoon Serviceberry

Amelanchier alnifolia

6 feet

http://www.hcs.ohio-state.edu/hcs/TMI/Plantlist/amelanchier.html

Leadplant Amorpha

Amorpha canescens

8 – 20 feet

http://www.noble.org/imagegallery/woodhtml/Leadplant.html

Black Chokeberry

Aronia melanocarpa

10 feet

http://www.chicago-botanic.org/PPChokeberry.html

Mentor Barberry

Berberis x mentorensis

7 feet

www.hcs.ohio-state.edu/hcs/TMI/Plantlist/be_ensis.html

Japanese Barberry

Berberis thunbergii

7 feet

www.hcs.ohio-state.edu/hcs/TMI/Plantlist/be_ergii.html

Siberian Peashrub

Caragana arborescens

10– 15 feet

http://www.midwestlandscapeplants.org/plantdetails.cfm?speciesid=495

New Jersey Tea

Ceanothus americanus

3 feet

http://www.noble.org/imagegallery/woodhtml/NewJerseyTea.html

Flowering Quince

Chaenomeles Hybrids

2 – 4 feet

http://www.midwestlandscapeplants.org/plantdetails.cfm?speciesid=506

Corneliancherry Dogwood

Cornus mas

20 feet

http://www.midwestlandscapeplants.org/plantdetails.cfm?speciesid=522

Gray Dogwood

Cornus racemosa

10 feet

www.hcs.ohio-state.edu/hcs/TMI/Plantlist/co_emosa.html

Smokebush

Cotinus coggygria

10 feet

http://www1.uwex.edu/ces/landscapeplants/plantdetails.cfm?speciesid=533

Dwarf Bush-honeysuckle

Diervilla lonicera

3 – 4 feet

http://www.midwestlandscapeplants.org/plantdetails.cfm?speciesid=555

Common Witchhazel

Hamamelis virginiana

15 feet

http://www.midwestlandscapeplants.org/plantdetails.cfm?speciesid=603

Juniper

Juniperur chinensis

10 – 15 feet

www.hcs.ohio-state.edu/hcs/TMI/Plantlist/juniperus.html

Beautybush

Kolkwitzia amabilis

6 – 8 feet

http://www.midwestlandscapeplants.org/plantdetails.cfm?speciesid=654

Privet

Ligustruin species

15 – 20 feet

www.hcs.ohio-state.edu/hcs/TMI/Plantlist/li_olium.html

Blueleaf Honeysuckle

Lonicera korolkowii

15 feet

http://www.colostate.edu/Depts/CoopExt/4DMG/Trees/Shrubs/blueleaf.htm

Emerald Mound Honeysuckle

Lonicera maackii

2 feet

http://www.midwestlandscapeplants.org/plantdetails.cfm?speciesid=667

Amur Honeysuckle

Lonicera inaackii

15 feet

www.hcs.ohio-state.edu/hcs/TMI/Plantlist/lo_ackii.html

Common Ninebark

Physocarpus opulifolius

10 feet

http://www.midwestlandscapeplants.org/plantdetails.cfm?speciesid=726

Mugo Pine

Pinus mugo

5 – 15 feet

www.hcs.ohio-state.edu/hcs/TMI/Plantlist/pi_mugo.html

Nanking Cherry

Prunus tomentosa

15 feet

www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu/aginfo/trees/handbook/th-3-11.pdf

Western Sandcherry

Prunus besseyi

4 feet

http://www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu/aginfo/trees/handbook/th-3-45.pdf

Scarlet Firethorn

Pyracantha coccinea

6 feet

www.hcs.ohio-state.edu/hcs/TMI/Plantlist/py_cinea.html

Fragrant Sumac

Rhus aromatica

6 feet

http://www.midwestlandscapeplants.org/plantdetails.cfm?speciesid=811

Missouri Gooseberry

Ribes missouriense

3 feet

http://www.missouriwildflowerguide.com/Flowers/Gooseberry.html

Clove Currant

Ribes odoratum

8 feet

http://www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu/aginfo/trees/handbook/th-3-19.pdf

Rugose Rose

Rosa rugosa

6 feet

http://www.midwestlandscapeplants.org/plantdetails.cfm?speciesid=825

Winged Euonymus

Euonymus alatus

20 feet

http://www.hcs.ohio-state.edu/hcs/TMI/Plantlist/eu_alata.html

Forsythia

Forsythia

10 feet

http://www.cnr.vt.edu/dendro/dendrology/syllabus/forsythiaspp.htm

Potentilla

Potentilla fruticosa

5 feet

http://www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu/aginfo/trees/handbook/th-3-41.pdf

Elderberry

Sambucus canadensis

8 feet

http://www.duke.edu/~cwcook/trees/saca.html

Vanhoute Spirea

Spiraea x vanhouttei

6 – 8 feet

http://www.midwestlandscapeplants.org/plantdetails.cfm?speciesid=640

Western Snowberry

Symphoricarpos rotundifolius

3 – 4 feet

http://wisplants.uwsp.edu/scripts/detail.asp?SpCode=SYMOCC

Indiancurrant Coralberry

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

5 feet

http://www.midwestlandscapeplants.org/plantdetails.cfm?speciesid=644

Common Lilac

Syringa vulgaris

10 feet

http://www.midwestlandscapeplants.org/plantdetails.cfm?speciesid=872

Wayfaringtree

Viburnuin lantana

10 feet

www.hcs.ohio-state.edu/hcs/TMI/Plantlist/vi_ntana.html

Nannyberry

Viburnum lentago

25 feet

www.hcs.ohio-state.edu/hcs/TMI/Plantlist/vi_ntago.html

Blackhaw Viburnum

Viburnum prunifolium

15 feet

http://hcs.osu.edu/hcs/TMI/Plantlist/vi_olium.html

Soapweed

Yucca glauca

3 feet

http://www.lib.ksu.edu/wildflower/yucca.html

Adam's-needle Yucca

Yucca filamentosa

2 feet

http://www.midwestlandscapeplants.org/plantdetails.cfm?speciesid=974

Wild Flowers Wildflowers & Perennials

Common Name

Scientific Name

Photos

Yarrow Antennaria

Achillea species

http://www.colostate.edu/Depts/CoopExt/4DMG/Flowers/Perenls/moonwalk.htm

Pussytoes Artemisia

Artemisia

http://www.biosurvey.ou.edu/okwild/planlvpuss.html

New England Aster

Aster novae – angliae

http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/wildseed/31/31.7.html

Butterfly Weed

Asclepias tuberosa

http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/wildseed/21/21.4.html

False Indigo

Baptisia species

http://pss.uvm.edu/pss123/perbapti.html

Coreopsis

Coreopsis grandiflora

http://pss.uvm.edu/pss123/percoreo.html

Purple Prairie Clover

Dalea purpurea

http://www.lib.ksu.edu/wildflower/purplepclover.html

Purple Coneflower

Echinacea purpurea

http://www.biosurvey.ou.edu/okwild/purconeflr.html

Blanket Flower

Gaillardia sp.

http://classes.hortla.wsu.edu/hort232/list9/Gaillardia.html

Daylily

Hemerocallis sp.

http://www.cals.wisc.edu/westmad/perennials.html

Iris Species

Iris species

http://www.pssc.ttu.edu/pss1411cd/PLANTID/iris/iris.htm

Gayfeather

Liatris aspera Michx

http://www.lib.ksu.edu/wildflower/tallgay.html

Crimson bee-balm

Monarda didyma

http://pss.uvm.edu/pss123/permonar.html

Sedum

Sedum spectabile

http://beelab.osu.edu/garden/plants/sedum.html

Black-Eyed Susan

Rudbeckia hirta

http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/wildseed/20/20.2.html

Columbine

Aquilegia canadensis

http://www.lib.ksu.edu/wildflower/columbine.html

Russian Sage

Perovskia atriplicifolia

http://www.ag.auburn.edu/hort/landscape/dbpages/549.html

Hens-N-Chicks

Sempervivum tectorum

http://www.colostate.edu/Depts/CoopExt/4DMG/Flowers/Perenls/henchick.htm

Grasses Turfgrasses

Common Name

Scientific Name

Photos

Buffalograss

Buchloe dactyloides

http://www.colostate.edu/Depts/CoopExt/4DMG/Lawns/bufgrass.htm

Tall Fescue

Lolium arundinaceum

http://www.colostate.edu/Depts/CoopExt/4DMG/Lawns/tallfesc.htm

ornimental grasses Ornamental Grasses

Common Name

Scientific Name

Photos

Big Bluestem

Andropogon gerardii

http://plants.usda.gov/cgi_bin/plant_profile.cgi?symbol=ANGE

Sideoats Grama

Bouteloua curtipendula

http://plants.usda.gov/cgi_bin/plant_profile.cgi?symbol=BOCU

Feather Reed Grass

Calamagrostis x

http://www.wsu.edu/~lohr/wcl/grasses/calamagr/wcakfdes.html

Sand Lovegrass

Reedgrass eragrostis trichodes

http://www.lib.ksu.edu/wildflower/sandlovegrass.html

Eulalia Grass

Miscanthus sinensis

http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/herbaceous/print/miscanthussinen.html

Switchgrass

Panicuin virgatuin

http://www.noble.org/imagegallery/grasshtml/Switchgrass.html

Fountaingrass

Pennisetum

http://plants.usda.gov/cgi_bin/plant_profile.cgi?symbol=PENNI

Little Bluestem

Schizachyrium scoparium

http://plants.usda.gov/cgi_bin/plant_profile.cgi?symbol=SCSC

Indiangrass

Sorghastrum nutans

http://plants.usda.gov/cgi_bin/plant_profile.cgi?symbol=SONU2

This information was compiled from a variety of sources by staff of the Nebraska Energy Office in 2003.
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