Using Water Resources More Efficiently

U.S. Drought Monitor as of 7/11/23
U.S. Drought Monitor as of 7/11/23

By Becky Schuerman, Extension Associate, Domestic Water/Wastewater Management

Nebraska is no stranger to dry spells, especially during the summer months. Unfortunately, we have been experiencing longer year-round dry spells in recent years that are becoming more severe to deal with. While using water more efficiently is always a good habit to adopt, it becomes more critical during times of drought, even if restrictions are not mandatory yet.

To see the weekly drought map and stats, check out the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) website at Enter your zip code for detailed information on conditions where you live, and click on the ‘go to’ links for statewide and county drought data.

If you are on municipal water, stay up-to-date on what water restrictions are in place. A public water system’s main focus is to ensure safe water is available for essential services within the community, i.e., water for consumption and firefighting. Efficient water usage practices not only conserve water, but can also positively impact your pocketbook.

• Plant drought-tolerant plants within your landscape.
• Mulch plants and trees.
• Find and fix leaky irrigation sprinkler heads/lines.
• Turn irrigation systems to manual and only irrigate when soil moisture is needed. Learn how to check soil moisture and best irrigation practices at
• Use soaker hoses or drip irrigation to more efficiently water plants.
• Sweep debris off driveways, sidewalks and decks instead of hosing them down.
• Cover pools when not in use to decrease evaporation.
• Cut back on washing cars, but when you do wash, use a bucket more than a hose.

• Find and repair water fixtures (e.g., toilet tanks that continuously fill or faucets that constantly drip) and leaky pipes.
• Install water-wise appliances/fixtures.
• Run washers with only full loads of clothes or dishes, using the most water-efficient settings.
• Take short showers.
• Keep a pitcher of water in the fridge for when you need a cold drink of water.
• Don’t run the water constantly while washing hands/dishes, shaving, shampooing hair or brushing teeth.
• Capture unused tap water from your sink, tub or shower while waiting for hot water and use it to provide water for plants or pets.

Implementing water-efficient practices all year round is helpful not only during times of drought, but it also saves you money by decreasing municipal water bills and savings for private well owners on their electric bill, as well as wear and tear on well pumping equipment.