Tips to protect, conserve water resources

Want to make a difference this Earth Day? "No matter who you are or where you live, there are many ways you can help. Just start by doing one thing for our water. Small changes can make a difference," the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency stated...

Want to make a difference this Earth Day?

"No matter who you are or where you live, there are many ways you can help. Just start by doing one thing for our water. Small changes can make a difference," the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency stated. Gov. Mark Dayton declared this as Water Action Week and the MPCA provided ways to protect and conserve water resources.

Tips include:

Sprinkle smartly

Water the lawn in the morning to get the most water to the plant and reduce evaporation. Be mindful of sprinklers that really end up watering the sidewalk or driveway instead of the grass. Everyone has seen them-sprinklers that are going during a rainstorm or in its aftermath. If it's raining, shut the sprinkler off and set the timer.


Consider putting a rain barrel under the downspout to capture water that can be used later to water the garden, plants or lawn. To water smartly, water close to the ground. Water slowly, deeply and less frequently. Aerate the lawn and leave cores to decompose naturally, it decreases thatch and improves root systems.

Smart mowing

Mow grass to a height of 2 to 3 inches, it allows the roots to grow deeper to reach more water during dry periods and longer grass helps shade the soil, making it harder for weeds to become established. Leave grass clipping on the lawn, which equates to about one fertilizer application per year. Sweep sidewalks or driveways to keep clippings from getting into lakes or streams. Wait to water the lawn until it hasn't rained for seven days. Consider an electric mower, which reduces noise pollution and emissions.

Off with the faucets

To conserve water, turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth. If that doesn't seem as though it will make a difference, consider the average faucet produces water at 2 gallons per minute. People can save 4 gallons of water by just turning off the tap.

Don't start a laundry load or turn on the dishwasher until the clothes washer or dishwasher are full. Consider reusing towels instead of using them once and putting them in the clothes hamper.

Don't farm naked

By reducing tillage and planting cover crops, farmers can build healthy soil that results in better crops and cleaner water. Plant cover reduces field runoff and helps reduce sediment and excess nutrients from going into streams.


Mind the gutter

Keeping leaves and grass clippings off the street prevents them from washing into the storm drain and into lakes and rivers. Phosphorus from leaves and grass creates green slime in the lakes from algae growth. Instead compost leaves either in a backyard compost or a community collection, shred leaves to use as mulch for gardens or lawns

Avoid cesspools

Maintaining septic systems, especially on lake homes, is a critical part of water quality. A poorly functioning septic system may not remove pathogens, nutrients and chemicals before used water enters groundwater or lakes.

Buffer the shoreline

Natural shorelines of perennial vegetation can slow runoff and trap sediment to help filter out phosphorous and nitrogen. The vegetation absorbs pollutants preventing them from entering the water supply. It also reduces time spent mowing when it could be put to use enjoying the weekend. Once established, natural landscapes require less time, money and effort to maintain and provide habitat.

Plant a tree

In Minnesota, trees cover about 27 percent of the land, but the percentage is declining because of stress including tree pests. Trees can save energy and money by shading buildings, lowering air temperatures and reducing wind speed. Trees and other vegetation can lower air temps by 5 degrees. One well-placed large tree provides an average savings of $31 in home heating costs annually. Trees can improve property values when properties are for sale, can reduce stormwater runoff and improve air quality.


Don't be a drip

At one drip per second, a leaky faucet can leak 3,000 gallons in a year. A running toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water per day. Most leaks may be repaired for big savings. High efficiency fixtures, such as shower heads, and appliances, like water heaters, can conserve water and save money.

Keep it clean

Modern car washes use a lot less water and recycle the water and may be worth the treat instead of washing the car in the driveway, where the soapy water runs down the storm drain and into a lake, stream or wetland.

Go on a low-nitrogen diet

Us as little nitrogen fertilizer on lawns and fields as possible.

Go to for more tips.

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