Protecting and conserving our water supply is a priority of all water resource managers, public works directors, and municipal leaders in the Chicago area. What is one of the most efficient ways to address water conservation? Look at the lawns.
Landscape and lawn watering is the leading discretionary use of water in the Chicago region, accounting for more than thirty percent of all residential water use. Additionally, as much as fifty percent of all water used outdoors is wasted due to inefficient watering methods and systems.
This use puts a strain on existing water resources, particularly in Northwest Water Planning Alliance communities. It also impacts existing water infrastructure, causing peak usage to rise and increasing the need for additional capacity-building infrastructure, which can be of huge cost to communities.
NWPA Regional Water Conservation Lawn Watering Ordinance
The NWPA, in collaboration with the Metropolitan Planning Council, CMAP, and the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, developed the lawn watering ordinance in 2012. The ordinance is year-round, with limitations on when outdoor watering is allowed, and provisions for reduced use and prohibition during drought conditions.
Nine NWPA communities have adopted the ordinance, and the benefits have been widespread. Beyond conservation, reducing outdoor water use through the ordinance has allowed communities to bypass costly planned infrastructure expansion.
What can you do?
Adoption of the lawn watering ordinance is still low region-wide. Share educational material about the importance of water conservation with local officials and residents in your community, speak with audiences about the benefits to your community and the region, and advocate for adoption of the NWPA lawn watering ordinance in your municipality.
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