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Don’t drain profits or resources: save water

May 13, 2013


By Richard Young

At a restaurant, water is the most important ingredient used every day.

If you run out of onions you can usually find a work-around, but it is game over if your water supply runs dry. And while that fact may be obvious, most operators don’t consider that water is a commodity purchased from a supplier and it is growing more expensive all the time.

Not only that, but water reserves throughout the United States are challenged now so it’s important we be  mindful of how much we use — and how much we waste.

So what’s the big takeaway here? It’s to recognize that water is not an infinite or free resource and shouldn’t be treated as such. For those of you who are looking for easy, affordable ways to conserve water at your restaurants, here are some tips we’d like to share:

Track your water bills. By incorporating your water bills into a spreadsheet, you’ll be able to see exactly how much you pay for water and sewer as well as spot costly leaks and equipment failures that could end up draining your profits.

Find and fix all leaks. Even a small leak can add up to hundreds of dollars of profit flushed down the drain. Remember, every drop of hot water costs you in three different ways: water in, sewer out, and water heating. Find out how much you are saving by using our free leak calculator at http://www.fishnick.com/savewater/tools/leakcalculator/.

Maintain your dish machines. The Food Service Technology Center's dish machine field monitoring project is finding machines that waste thousands of gallons of water a day because of poorly adjusted, worn or broken components. Water-wasting dishwashers can also waste your expensive chemicals, so make sure your machines are operating to spec.

Install a low-flow pre-rinse spray valve. High-pressure low-flow valves combine cleaning performance, water and energy savings into one low-cost, easy-to- install device. If you have not upgraded to a low-flow valve, do it now. This is one of the most cost effective ways to save big money in your kitchen. For performance data and to calculate your savings visit http://www.fishnick.com/savewater/tools/watercalculator.

Use a refrigerator to thaw food. Sticking frozen food under running water is wasteful. Plan ahead and thaw your food in a refrigerator. Depending on your daily production, you might be able save enough on your water bill to buy a dedicated refrigerator just for thawing.

All the indicators point towards tighter water supplies and higher costs nationwide. If you use water carefully and treat it like the valuable commodity it is, you’ll be more profitable, prepared for rising costs and doing your part to conserve resources.


Richard Young is senior engineer and educational director for the Food Service Technology Center in San Ramon, Calif., and a member of the Conserve Sustainability Advisory Committee.


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