Water Appropriations Permit Program

Public water supply conservation

Conservation measures for water supply systems


The water, wastewater, and energy saving benefits from conservation measures should be provided to customers along with information on how to improve water use efficiencies. Information should be provided several times each year and especially during high-use periods.

The American Water Works Association (AWWA) has excellent materials on water conservation that are available in numerous formats. You can contact the AWWA Bookstore at 1-800-926-7337 for information regarding educational materials and formats that are available. Educational information is also available from the Minnesota Rural Water Association (MRWA) at 218-685-5197 or the DNR 651-259-5034.


The AWWA recommends that every water utility should meter all water taken into its system and water distributed from the system to its users. Meters should be tested periodically to ensure that meters are functioning properly; a meter testing program may help reduce unaccounted-for water volumes.

Water Audits, Leak Detection, and Repair

Cities should establish a goal for unaccounted-for water (the AWWA recommends less than 10 percent) and monitor unaccounted-for water volumes each month or billing period. Water audit, leak detection, and repair programs should be implemented when unaccounted-for water is higher than the goal.


Please be aware that Minnesota Statutes 103G.291 require public water suppliers to adopt and enforce water use restrictions when the governor declares a critical water deficiency. The restrictions must limit sprinkling lawns, washing vehicles, irrigating golf courses and parks, and other nonessential uses and have appropriate penalties for failure to comply with restrictions.

Regulations and ordinances can be used to encourage the use of best management practices for improving water use efficiencies. Limits on time of day lawn watering, installation of rain detection devices on automatic sprinkler systems, and enactment of water wasting ordinances are a few examples of ways to encourage improvements in water use efficiencies. Please contact the DNR if you have questions regarding examples of ordinances that could be used to address a specific situation.


Data from the AWWA indicate that water use could be reduced as much as 33.5 gallons per capita per day (GPCD) by using water-efficient toilets, showerheads, and faucets that meet federal manufacturing standards. The water, wastewater, and energy benefits from replacing inefficient water fixtures should be part of a public education program. It is recommended that communities develop a long-term plan to retrofit public buildings. Retrofitting of public buildings will help promote educational efforts as well as demonstrate fiscal and environmental responsibility.

Certain electric and gas providers are required by law (Minnesota Statutes 216B.241) to fund programs that will conserve energy resources. Electric and gas utilities have distributed new water-efficient showerheads to customers to help reduce energy demands required to supply hot water. You may want to contact local electric or gas suppliers to see if they are interested in developing a showerhead distribution program for customers in your service area.

Contact Information

Please contact Carmelita Nelson at 651-259-5034 or your area hydrologist if you have questions regarding conservation measures for water supply systems.