Outdoor Water Conservation

Watering lawns and gardens in the summer accounts for one-third of all residential water use, but less than half of that is needed to keep lawns healthy. In Illinois and Indiana, lawns require only one inch of water per week, or about two hours of sprinkling. The extra water cannot be absorbed by the grass and instead runs off into nearby lakes or rivers, carrying chemicals and debris with it.

IISG provides state and local officials, as well as residents, with the latest research and strategies to conserve water, especially during peak summer use. For example, water-pricing research helps cities discourage excessive outdoor use by raising water prices during the summer.

Natural lawn care workshops and ‘how to’ guides also show residents that choosing the right plant, composting, and scaling back pesticide use can lead to lawns that require less water. And for remaining outdoor water demands, IISG provides officials in Illinois and Indiana with information on how treated wastewater can be effectively and safely reused.

IISG is also working with the Northwest Planning Alliance, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, and the Metropolitan Planning Council to provide outreach and education for the implementation of a regional ordinance that would curb outdoor water use, starting with development of an outdoor water conservation manual.


Margaret Schneemann
Water Resource Economist

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant
Purdue University
195 Marsteller Street
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2033
University of Illinois Extensio
Sea Grant
Purdue University