Skip to main content

Water conservation and efficiency

Spritz the water drop
Spritz, the water use mascot.

Wisconsin has abundant water resources that are the foundation for safe drinking water, recreational opportunities and economic activity. The careful stewardship of these resources through water conservation and efficient use is critical to protecting this abundance and maintaining these uses. Wisconsin statutes require the DNR to implement a statewide water conservation and efficiency program. This program is implemented in part through administrative rule, NR 852, Wis. Adm. Code, which became effective on Jan. 1, 2011. See the Water Conservation and Efficiency Factsheet [PDF] for more information on this rule.

Statewide goals and objectives

The DNR along with the Public Service Commission and Department of Safety and Professional Services (formerly the Department of Commerce) developed water conservation and water use efficiency Wisconsin Water Conservation Goals and Objectives [PDF]. In 2011, the goals and objectives were updated to include the following mission:

"Sustainably manage the quantity and quality of water in the state to ensure that water is available to be used to protect and improve our health, economy and environment now and in the future."

Water conservation tips for homeowners

Fix a Leak Week Infographic by EPA
For more information, visit the EPA Fix a Leak Week website.

Here are some easy tips to conserve water, especially during times of drought, to ensure that water supplies remain adequate for drinking, hygiene, food production and other critical uses.

  • Decrease 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.
  • Use a broom instead of a hose when cleaning outside on pavement.
  • Make easy changes to your older toilets. Contact your municipal water utility to see if they offer rebates for switching to low flow toilets or other appliances. Otherwise, placing a toilet dam or insert in the toilet tank can save up to 3 gallons per flush. A plastic bottle weighted with washed pebbles makes a good insert.
  • Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator to quench your thirst without running the tap.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.


Check out these videos for tips to stop drips.

Additional information