Slow the Flow

Water Efficiency: The Key to a Sustainable Future

Protecting and preserving our water resources is a long-term goal of the City and is part of our sustainability efforts. Using less water also translates into savings on utility bills. Water customers pay both a monthly base fee for water as well as a water consumption rate tied to the amount of water they use. Beginning in 2015, the City has instituted a wastewater bill discount for the lowest 20% of indoor water users.

In Spokane, water use more than triples in the summer time and now is the perfect time to make sure you're watering efficiently! The Spokane Water Department has resources available to help our customers reduce their water use and utility bills. Some of the free resources for our customers include:

  • Outdoor Conservation Kits-includes repair parts and hose nozzle
  • Indoor Conservation Kits- includes a low-flow shower head, aerators, and a toilet water saving device
  • Indoor Water Use Credit
  • Educational Events and Presentations

Utility customers can pick up a free conservation kit from the main floor of City Hall at the Customer Service desk.

How you can help: Water Saving Tips

There are lots of simple ways to reduce the amount of water that we use at home, both inside and out. Explore our links to find even more ways to save!

Outdoor Conservation

Quick Tips

Timing is Everything

  • Water your lawn or garden during the cool morning hours, as opposed to midday, to reduce evaporation.
  • Use an automatic timer on your sprinkler or set a kitchen timer to remind you to turn off the water. Left unattended, a garden hose can waste as much as 600 gallons of water in just one hour!

Let it Grow

  • Raise your lawn mower blade to at least 3 inches. Taller grass promotes deeper roots, shades the root system, and holds soil moisture better than a closely cropped lawn.
  • Don't over fertilize. You will increase the lawn's need for water.

Tune Up Your System

  • Inspect irrigation systems and fix leaks and broken or clogged sprinkler heads. A broken sprinkler can waste 25,000 gallons in 6 months!
  • Make sure you're watering the yard and not the street or driveway.

Water When Needed

  • Lawns only need watering every 3 to 5 days in the summer. Watering more than 1 inch per week means you're just watering the ground below.
  • Look for sprinklers that produce droplets or use a soaker hose to water trees and shrubs.

How Much is Enough?

One of the easiest ways to save water is to make sure that you are not overwatering your lawn and plants. Most of us water more than we need to, which not only wastes water but ends up drowning our plants.

  • According to numerous studies, a healthy lawn needs only about 1 inch of rain per week. When using a sprinkler system or hose, that's the equivalent of 60 gallons per 100 square feet.
  • Watering a garden is a little more complicated because the amount of moisture needed by vegetables, fruits and flowers varies, and these plants are more sensitive to heat. The “one-inch-per-week” guideline generally applies with a few modifications.
  • When the weather is hot, it is recommended that ½ inch is added per week for every 10 degrees that the average daily temperature exceeds 60 degrees. Always water your lawn or garden during the cool morning hours, as opposed to midday, to reduce evaporation.
  • Soil type is also a factor. Since sandy soils drain faster, they require more water than other soil types. In most cases, a deep watering twice a week is sufficient once the plants are established. If the soil is moist at a depth of 6 inches, this is ideal.
  • A rain sensor will allow your irrigation system to automatically shut-off if rainfall exceeds a certain amount. Afterward, the system will automatically resume its normal schedule.

Related Links

Drip Irrigation

What is Drip Irrigation?

Drip irrigation is the slow, precise application of water directly to the plants' root. A drip irrigation, micro-irrigation, system can be customized to meet your landscape's specific needs while maintaining an optimum moisture level for your plants, efficiently conserving water that might otherwise be lost.

The Benefits of Drip Irrigation

Drip irrigation is an efficient and economical method of watering. Experts say that drip irrigation is at least 90 percent more efficient than other irrigation methods and reduces runoff and evaporation. Drip irrigation applies the water slowly where it is needed—at the plant's roots.

Commonly used in commercial nursery and agricultural operations, homeowners are beginning to take advantage of its uses and benefits.

Drip irrigation involves placing tubing with emitters on the ground alongside the plants. The emitters slowly drip water into the soil at the root zone. With this slow, appropriate direct application of water, plant health and growth is improved. In addition, drip irrigation:

  • Prevents disease
  • Reduces weed growth
  • Saves time and water
  • Requires less work and maintenance

Related Links

Rain Barrels

Did you know 1" of rain yields approximately 600 gallons of water per every 1,000 square foot of roof space?! With a rain barrel you can capture that rain and reuse it to feed plants with nutrient-dense water, save money on your water bill and reduce harmful urban run-off that would otherwise pollute our watershed and river. Installing a rain barrel is inexpensive and easy. View our guide to learn more.

Is rain water harvesting legal in Washington?

Yes! Under Washington State policy, property owners don't have to acquire a water right permit to collect rainwater. Learn more about state policies on rainwater collection from the Department of Ecology.

Related Links


Whether adding a few plants or redesigning your entire yard, incorporate a Waterwise design to save water, time and money.


Xeriscape is a type of landscaping that reduces water use and incorporates native and drought tolerant planting. It also requires very little maintenance. Native plants only require trimming a few times a year and a basic treatment for weeds in spring time.

Xeric design by Janis Saiki of The Friends of Manito. To learn more about The Friends of Manito and view more landscape designs, visit

Lawn Alternatives

Consider removing your turf and replacing with a “No-Mow” design using groundcovers, clover, ornamental grasses, native flowers and shrubs. These are all low-water use and low-maintenance!

For even less maintenance, consider artificial grass. A number of manufacturers have developed versions that aren't easy to distinguish from the real thing.

Plant Native and Drought Tolerant

Once established, these plants require little water beyond what Mother Nature provides. The WSU Extension Office has comprehensive lists of native and drought tolerant plants, shrubs and trees.

Related Links

Indoor Conservation

Quick Tips

Get Flush With Savings

  • Old toilet? Fill a 1/2 gallon plastic container with water or gravel and add to the tank for a savings of 1/2 gallon per flush.

Take Five

  • Install a low-flow showerhead and save water without losing the pressure. Two minutes less in the shower could save 46,000 gallons of water per year!
  • A full bath tub can require 70 gallons of water, while taking a 5-minute shower uses only 10 to 25 gallons.

Lighten Your Loads

  • Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes to make the most of the washing cycle.
  • Replace your old washing machine with a high-efficiency model and use up to 50% less water and electricity.

Accessorize Your Faucet

  • Installing a low-flow aerator is one of the most cost-effective ways to save water. You can increase the faucet's efficiency by 30% without sacrificing performance.
  • Repair dripping faucets. A drip rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year.

Investigate your water saving opportunities in each area of your home here



  • Consider installing a low-flow or dual flush toilet that uses less water, while offering equal or superior performance, and save 18% on your water bill.
  • Be sure to check for leaks at least once a year.


  • A full bathtub needs 70 gallons to fill, fill the tub halfway or less.
  • Take a short shower instead of a bath.
  • When running a bath, plug the tub before turning on the water and adjust the temperature as it fills.


  • Install a low-flow showerhead, modern showerheads reduce the flow without losing pressure.
  • Using a low-flow showerhead can save 12,000 gallons a year.


  • Installing a low-flow aerator is one of the most cost-effective ways to save water. You can increase the faucet's efficiency by 30% without sacrificing performance.

Washing Machine

  • Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes to make the most of the washing cycle.
  • Replacing your old washing machine with a high-efficiency model and use up to 50% less water and electricity.


  • Dishwashers typically use less water than washing dishes by hand.
  • Run the dishwasher only when full to save water and energy.
  • Install a water and energy efficient dishwasher and save 3-8 gallons per load.
  • If your dishwasher is new, cut back on rising. Newer models clean more thoroughly than older ones.


  • When washing dishes by hand, don't let the water run. Fill one basin with wash water and the other with rinse water.
  • Install aerators on the kitchen faucet to reduce flows to 1.5 gallons per minute or less.


  • Don't use running water to thaw food. Defrost food in the refrigerator.
  • Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the fridge instead of running the tap.
  • If you accidentally drop ice cubes, don't throw them in the sink. Drop them in a house plant instead.
Leaks- Repair & Conquer


  • Check for leaks by adding food coloring to the tank, if the color makes it into the bowl within 15 minutes you have a leak.
  • A constant running toilet can waste 72,800 GALLONS, that’s equal to over 4 backyard pools of water.


  • Repair dripping faucets. A drip rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year.
  • A showerhead leaking at 10 DRIPS per minute wastes more than 500 GALLONS per year. That’s equal to 60 LOADS of dishes.

Look for Leaks

While some leaks are easy to see, many can be hidden. Find out if you have a leak in your home by reading your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the readings are different, you have a leak.

Related Links:


Providing education for adults and youth is an important part of our mission. Our program includes:

  • Classroom presentations
  • Field trip opportunities
  • Guest speakers
  • Community events

Teaching Resources for Environmental Education
The Project T.R.E.E. guide lists classroom presentations, field trips, and other programs available at no cost to your school from various environmental agencies in Spokane County. These offerings enhance your curriculum and support Next Generation Science Standards while connecting students to issues that directly relate to their community.

For additional information on educational opportunities and how to conserve water, contact Kristen Zimmer, Water Stewardship Educator, at or at 509.625.6573.

Resources & Games for Kids

Local Information

Other Links