The Hows and Whys...
Using Less Water
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


Amur Maple

Acer ginnala

25 feet

Norway Maple

Acer platanoides

50 feet


Carya ovata

60 feet

Common Hackberry

Celtis occidentalis

60 feet

Eastern Redbud

Cercis canadensis

20 feet

Thornless Cockspur Hawthorn

Crataegur crusgalli iInerinis

20 feet

Washington Hawthorn

Crataegus phaenopyrum

25 feet

Green Ash

Fraxinus pennsylvanica

60 feet

White Ash

Fraxinus americana

80 feet


Ginko biloba

60 feet

Thornless Common Honeylocust

Gelditsia triacanthos inerinis

60 feet

Kentuck Coffeetree

Gymnocladus dioica

60 feet


Juniperus scopulorum

25 – 35 feet

Golden Raintree

Koelreuteria paniculata

30 feet

Osage Orange (thornless male)

Maclura pomifera

50 feet


Malus sp.

15 – 25 feet

Colorado Spruce

Picea pungens

50 feet

Black Hills Spruce

Pinus banksiana‘densata’

45 feet

Jack Pine

Pinus banksiana

35 – 40 feet

Austrian Pine

Pinus nigra

50 feet

Ponderosa Pine

Pinus ponderosa

60 feet

Scotch Pine

Pinus sylvestris

40 feet

Douglas Fir

Pseudotsuga inenziesii

50 feet

Scarlet Oak

Quercus coccinea

65 feet

Shingle Oak

Quercus imbricaria

40 feet

Bur Oak

Quercus macrocarpa

50 feet

Blackjack Oak

Quercus inarilandica

25 feet

Black Oak

Quercus velutina

55 feet

Swamp Oak

Quercus bicolor

50 feet

Black Locust

Robinia pseudoacacia

60 feet


Taxodium distichum

50 feet

shrubs Shrubs

Common Name

Scientific Name

Avg. Height


Saskatoon Serviceberry

Amelanchier alnifolia

6 feet

Leadplant Amorpha

Amorpha canescens

8 – 20 feet

Black Chokeberry

Aronia melanocarpa

10 feet

Mentor Barberry

Berberis x mentorensis

7 feet

Japanese Barberry

Berberis thunbergii

7 feet

Siberian Peashrub

Caragana arborescens

10– 15 feet

New Jersey Tea

Ceanothus 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 korolkowii

15 feet

Emerald Mound Honeysuckle

Lonicera maackii

2 feet

Amur Honeysuckle

Lonicera inaackii

15 feet

Common Ninebark

Physocarpus opulifolius

10 feet

Mugo Pine

Pinus mugo

5 – 15 feet

Nanking Cherry

Prunus tomentosa

15 feet

Western Sandcherry

Prunus besseyi

4 feet

Scarlet Firethorn

Pyracantha coccinea

6 feet

Fragrant Sumac

Rhus aromatica

6 feet

Missouri Gooseberry

Ribes missouriense

3 feet

Clove Currant

Ribes odoratum

8 feet

Rugose Rose

Rosa rugosa

6 feet

Winged Euonymus

Euonymus alatus

20 feet



10 feet


Potentilla fruticosa

5 feet


Sambucus canadensis

8 feet

Vanhoute Spirea

Spiraea x vanhouttei

6 – 8 feet

Western Snowberry

Symphoricarpos rotundifolius

3 – 4 feet

Indiancurrant Coralberry

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

5 feet

Common Lilac

Syringa vulgaris

10 feet


Viburnuin lantana

10 feet


Viburnum lentago

25 feet

Blackhaw Viburnum

Viburnum prunifolium

15 feet


Yucca glauca

3 feet

Adam's-needle Yucca

Yucca filamentosa

2 feet

Wild Flowers Wildflowers & Perennials

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 grandiflora

Purple Prairie Clover

Dalea purpurea

Purple Coneflower

Echinacea purpurea

Blanket Flower

Gaillardia sp.


Hemerocallis sp.

Iris Species

Iris species


Liatris aspera Michx

Crimson bee-balm

Monarda didyma


Sedum spectabile

Black-Eyed Susan

Rudbeckia hirta


Aquilegia canadensis

Russian Sage

Perovskia atriplicifolia


Sempervivum tectorum

Grasses Turfgrasses

Common Name

Scientific Name



Buchloe dactyloides

Tall Fescue

Lolium arundinaceum

ornimental grasses Ornamental Grasses

Common Name

Scientific Name


Big Bluestem

Andropogon gerardii

Sideoats Grama

Bouteloua curtipendula

Feather Reed Grass

Calamagrostis x

Sand Lovegrass

Reedgrass eragrostis trichodes

Eulalia Grass

Miscanthus sinensis


Panicuin virgatuin



Little Bluestem

Schizachyrium scoparium


Sorghastrum nutans

This information was compiled from a variety of sources by staff of the Nebraska Energy Office in 2003.
Contact Us Disclaimer Energy Office Home Security, Privacy & Accessibility Policy State of Nebraska Home Webmaster