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Learn
where your groundwater comes from and how it moves underground to reach your drinking water well and the lakes and streams you enjoy.
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the quality and quantity of groundwater for your family, business customers and community.
Homeowner help
for private wells.

Be water-efficient during drought

Everyone is strongly urged to conserve water during this drought to ensure that water supplies remain adequate for drinking, hygiene, food production, and other critical uses. Follow these easy tips:

  1. Avoid watering your lawn and if you must, water wisely. From the article “Keeping your Grass Alive During Periods of Extended Drought” [exit DNR], written by Doug Soldat, UW-Extension’s turf grass expert:

    Healthy green grass uses about one inch of water each week. However, when your turf is brown, it uses much less. In fact, you only need to apply about one quarter of an inch per week (or about a half inch every other week) to keep the crowns hydrated, and ensure that your grass will green up when the rain begins. It is not a good idea to apply much more than this amount, as the turf will start to send out new green leaves which will require lots of water to maintain their greenness.

  2. Use a broom instead of a hose when cleaning outside on pavement.

  3. Make easy changes to your older toilets. Many municipalities offer rebates for switching to low-flow toilets and other appliances. Contact your municipal water utility if your community is on this list:

    » Communities with rebate programs [PDF exit DNR]

    Otherwise, placing a toilet dam or insert in the toilet tank can save up to three gallons per flush. A plastic bottle weighted with washed pebbles makes a good insert.

  4. Look for and fix leaks: A dripping faucet can waste 20 or more gallons of water a day; a leaking toilet, several thousand gallons a year. Find tips for finding and fixing leaks.

  5. Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator to quench your thirst without running the tap.

  6. Switch to a water-saving shower head. High efficiency shower heads can cut the amount of water used to 2.5 gallons per minute or less without sacrificing the feeling of a good drenching. Turn off the water while soaping up during a shower to save extra gallons. Bathers can put the stopper in the drain before running the water, then mix cold and hot for the right temperature. Turn off the tap while shaving or brushing your teeth.

  7. Follow water-saving dish and clothes washing practices: If you wash dishes by hand, don't leave the water running while washing them. Make sure the dishwasher is full before you turn it on, same for clothes washing machines. It takes as much water and energy to wash a half-load as it does to wash a full load. Scrape dishes into a compost bucket rather than rinse before loading the dishwasher.

Other outdoor conservation options

Other outdoor water savings include decreasing lawn area by converting some of your lawn into garden beds that use less water, by switching to native plants and shrubs, using mulch around your plants to hold moisture, re-directing rainspouts into a lawn or garden, and installing a rain barrel on your gutter downspout.

Consider water reuse

Technology is available to allow reuse of water softener backwash, sink and shower water, and laundry water to irrigate lawns. Several easily-installed systems are approved for use by the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services. Check out this fact sheet [PDF exit DNR] for more information. (Note: The Department of Commerce referenced in this document is now the Department of Safety and Professional Services.)

For more information on how to get started on these long-term water conservation measures, and for more ideas, please read “Water conservation and efficiency: More than turning off the faucet,” in the June 2011 Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.

More water conservation tips can be found at

» EPA Water Sense [exit DNR]

Last revised: Thursday August 17 2017