California has many natural resources, but in recent years none has proved more precious than water. The state has spent the better part of the 21st century in some level of drought, with the longest continuous period running 376 weeks from December 2011 to March 2019. Although California’s $50 billion a year agricultural sector accounts for 80% of the state’s home and business water consumption, it’s still critical for other businesses to do their part in reducing water use.
Water consumption varies widely by business sector, but restaurants, hotels and healthcare facilities are among the non-agricultural types of businesses that are good candidates for conservation because they use large amounts of water in their operations. An added benefit to water conservation for restaurants, hotels and healthcare facilities is that much of what they use is hot water – for dish washing, laundering or equipment sterilization – so saving water also saves energy.
There are a number of steps businesses can take to use water more efficiently. We’ll break them down into three categories: metering, equipment and behavioral.
- Smart water meters can store and transmit data on how much water a business consumes, and when they consume it. Smart meters can be read remotely and frequently, so they can be used to spot leaks or abnormal usage patterns.
- Advanced Metering Infrastructure uses smart water meters to collect and analyze water use information and then communicates it to the customer over the internet. AMI systems include hardware, data management software, communications, and water use portals and controllers.
Check with your local water utility to see if these metering options are available in your area.
- Replacing dishwashers, ice machines and steam cookers with ENERGY STAR models. This equipment will reduce both energy and water use by at least 10%.
- Installing new faucet aerators is an easy, inexpensive way to cut faucet water flow in half.
- Using low-flow pre-rinse spray valves on dishes also cuts water and energy use up to half. A low flow valve uses 1.6 gallons per minute, compared to 3 gallons per minute for traditional valves.
- Adding motion sensor taps on kitchen and bathroom sinks cuts water waste caused by employees or customers who walk away from running faucets.
- Educate your business’ employees on water conservation. Develop a written plan for how employees can save water and check to see if the plan’s benchmarks are being met.
- Recognize employees for their efforts to save water. Award prizes or other incentives to the individual employee or team that achieves the best results.
- Inform customers that your business is committed to conserving water, and on how they can help meet that commitment through their own actions.
Some of these steps may seem small but taken together, they can make a big difference. For California’s business community, saving water isn’t just a way to lower utility bills – it’s a way of ensuring that this precious resource will be available for years to come.