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Don’t let drought leave you thirsty for relief

August 21, 2014

By Courtney Lindberg

As most people probably know, California, along with several other Western states, is in the midst of a serve drought. Right now, our state is on a voluntary 10-percent reduction plan to save as much water as we possibly can. This means that all restaurateurs, other business operators and residents are being asked to do their part and decrease the amount of water they use daily. It’s not easy, but we’re doing our part, especially in Ventura, which is a small town located just outside of Los Angeles.

In the case of Ventura, one thing about our water is unique: it is not sourced from the Colorado River, as is the case for much of the rest of the state. We rely 100 percent on local sources for our drinking water. Since we are in a drought, water use hits close to home for our businesses and residents alike.

Right now, because we are on a voluntary reduction, it's critical for restaurants to look closely at their operations and take action to reduce their water use. This can be done by:

  • Running the dishwasher only when it is totally full
  • Not having running water behind the bar or in the kitchen, and
  • Using non-water thaw methods for frozen items

So why is it important to take action now? Because the next step after a voluntary 10-percent reduction is a mandatory water reduction. This means water use will be restricted and water prices potentially will increase.

You may be wondering what you, as a restaurant operator, can do to reduce water use besides not
voluntarily serving it to your guests. Our advice includes
these three tips:

  1. Install aerators and low flow toilets in your restaurants’ restrooms (see short how-to video)
  2. Post signs encouraging your guests and staff to turn water off when it’s not in use
  3. Remind your staff not to let water run freely ever

In our city, we give out low flow, pre-rinse spray nozzles for free, and other states, cities and municipalities may do the same. Check with your local politicians, chamber of commerce and EPA office about whether they do the same. If they don’t, the nozzles are not expensive. In addition, purchasing a new low flow toilet costs about $120, but both of those remedies offer instant savings because water here is expensive.

Different jurisdictions offer difference incentives for businesses and residents. In Ventura, we have a green business certification program that is a statewide partnership that highlights all of the efforts our local restaurants and businesses are taking.

Really, the first step is deciding to take action. If you make change now, it won’t cost you dearly later.

Courtney Lindberg is an environmental specialist for the city of Ventura in Southern California.

More Resources

Learn more about conserving water on the Learn: Save Water webpage.

 

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