How You Can Conserve

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Water is a valuable resource many people tend to take advantage of. In many places throughout the United States and the world, water is in short supply. While we are not acutely lacking water, Iowa is in a shortage zone.


Why Should You Conserve Water?

We need water in order to survive, so much that we are consuming fresh, cleaned water faster than it can be treated and naturally replenished.

  • Help the environment.  Water conservation allows more water for fish and other animals.
  • More drinking water - and you ease the burden on wastewater treatment plants.  The less water you send down the drain, the less work these plants have to do to make water clean again.
  • Save energy.  The less water you use, the less water and energy the water plant uses to treat and move the water to you, as well as less energy your family uses for a water pump or water heaters.
  • Save money.  Your family pays for all of the water you use.  The less water you use, the less you have to pay for!


Tips for Businesses: 

  • Educate employees and visitors about conserving water.  Place signs encouraging conservation in public and employee areas.
  • Serve water only upon request at restaurants.
  • Report leaks in faucets, toilets, and all other water fixtures so they may be repaired promptly.
  • When landscaping, plant or request the planting of native plants and arrange them in sections according to water and light needed.  This minimizes water use and maintenance.
  • Make sure sprinklers are set to irrigate only in the early morning and/or evening when evaporation is minimal.
  • Check sprinklers to be sure that water is not being wasted on sidewalks, parking lots, or streets.  Water should only be hitting lawns and plants.


Tips for Renters:

Whether or not you are directly paying for water, the amount you use and the cost of the water DO affect rent charges.  Conservation also helps the environment, community, and the treatment facilities. 

  • Keep a pitcher of tap water in the fridge instead of running the tap each time you want a cold drink of water.
  • Use the garbage disposal minimally, if at all.
  • Run the dishwasher and washing machine with full loads only.  (Dishwashers usually use about 12 gallons of water; washing machines use over 40 gallons)
  • Soak pots and pans rather than running them under water while you scrape them. 
  • Wash fruits and vegetables in a bowl of water using a vegetable brush.  Use the leftover water in the bowl for plants.
  • Report ALL leaks to your property manager or landlord.  You can check the toilet for leaks by putting several drops of food coloring in the back tank.  If within 15 minutes, the coloring has made it to the toilet bowl, then you have an expensive and wasteful leak. (You can also pick up dye tabs from City Hall Information Desk or the Water Plant for free. City Hall is located at 515 Clark and you can call the water plant at 515-239-5150 )
  • Do not use your toilet as a trash can.  Hair, dental floss, and other bathroom waste should go in the garbage.
  • Encourage your property manager to replace inefficient fixtures (toilets, showers, sinks, etc.) with low-flow and ultra-low flow models.
  • Never let the water run while brushing your teeth.
  • Turn off the water while shaving; rather, fill the sink with water to rinse the blade.
  • Take shorter showers.

If you discover a leak or if a fixture is not working correctly, do not hesitate to contact your property manager or maintenance provider with the information.  It can save money for both you and the property owner/manager.


Tips for Residential: Indoors

  • Replace inefficient fixtures with low-flow and ultra low-flow models.
  • Keep a pitcher of water in the fridge instead of running the tap and waiting for it to become cold.
  • Run the dishwasher and washing machine with full loads only.  (Running most dishwashers uses about 12 gallons of water; while washing machines can use over 40 gallons.)
  • Try not to use the garbage disposal.
  • Soak pots and pans rather than running the water while you scrape them clean. 
  • When hand-washing dishes, put a stopper on either side of the sink and use one side to wash and one to rinse, without leaving the water running.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables in a bowl of water, using a vegetable brush rather than rinsing them under running water.  Use the water from the bowl to water your flowers and plants.
  • Select the proper pan size for cooking.  Large pans require more cooking water than necessary.
  • Do not use the toilet as a trash can.
  • While brushing your teeth, remember to turn off the water faucet.
  • Washing dark clothes in cold water saves water and energy; it also helps your clothes retain their color. 
  • If you accidentally drop ice cubes, don't throw them in the sink or kick them under the fridge.  Pick them up and drop them in a house plant instead. 


Tips for Residential: Outdoors

Outdoor water usage can account for more than 50% of a home's water usage during the summer.  Using more effective means increases efficiency and decreases your water bill. 

  • Do not over-water.  Healthy lawns need no more than one inch of water per week.
  • Make sure only landscaped areas are being watered, not the sidewalk or driveway.
  • Encourage deeper grass roots by watering slowly and less frequently.
  • Dormant lawns can survive for over four weeks without water.
  • Use a broom to clean off sidewalks and driveways, rather than spraying down with a hose.
  • Water only in the early morning and during the cooler hours of the evening, when evaporation is minimal.
  • Put mulch down to minimize evaporation and increase water retention.  Is also help to eliminate weeds.
  • Check your sprinkler system frequently and adjust use according to the weather.
  • Landscaping with native plants, xeriscaping, requires less maintenance and less water.
  • To find out more about native Iowan plants, click here!



Lawn and garden conservation can be relatively easy while also saving you money on your water and electric bills.  Saving water and utilizing it better helps the environment, water supply, and your garden. 

  • Check all outside hoses and connections for leaks after the cold Iowa winter.
  • When planning (and planting) your flower beds, try to use groundcovers that require less watering such as: lavender, daylilies, forget-me-nots, aloes, marigolds, and zinnias.
  • Install a hose timer and/or a hose nozzle to avoid wasting water.
  • When watering your lawn and garden, be sure you are only watering your lawn and garden.  Water that goes onto the driveway, sidewalk, or road is wasted.
  • Water retention in lawns and gardens is enhanced by compost.  Start composting and add it to your garden for more nutrients and less evaporation! 
  • A slow-drip irrigation system helps prevent over-watering.
  • Water when it is cool outside, rather than during the hottest times of day.  Between dawn and 10 AM for the morning.  After dusk for evening. 
  • Keep the length of your lawn a bit longer, approximately 2 inches.  This helps reduce evaporation and saves you on gas in your mower!  When you do mow, keep the grass clipping on your lawn for even more water retention and less raking. 
  • Catch any known water runoffs and reuse the water on your garden and lawn. 
  • Invest in or make a rain barrel to catch rain water and reuse it in your garden. 

Fall Yard Conservation and Winterization Tips



Remember, monitor your water bill for unusually high use and possible leaks. Check for leaks at least twice a year. Repair all leaky toilets, faucets, and other fixtures.  You can check toilet leaks by putting a couple of drops of food coloring in the back tank or pick up some free leak-detection tablets at the water plant or City Hall.  If within 15 minutes the color from the tank has made it into the bowl, then you have a leaky toilet.  For further info on leak dye tablets, visit the City Hall Information Desk or call the Water Plant at 515-239-5150.




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