The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Kate Slusark, 212-727-4592

New Report: California Businesses Could Save More Than Enough Water to Supply Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco

Innovative Businesses, Agencies Show How to Save Money with Water Efficiency


In the midst of a third consecutive dry year, California's water
supply continues to shrink as the state's population grows, but
according to a new report by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the
state's commercial, industrial and institutional (CII) sector has the
tools to save more than enough water to meet the annual needs of Los
Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego combined. Some leading California
businesses and institutions are already catching on - saving water and
money at the same time.

"After three consecutive dry
years and global warming threatening to intensify California's
droughts, we need smart-water solutions that that
will stop waste and help businesses use only what they need," said
Ronnie Cohen, Director of Water Efficiency Policy for the Natural
Resources Defense Council. "Luckily, 21st-century technologies exist to
stretch our water supply and save money. And some trailblazing
California businesses and water agencies are already showing us how
it's done."

The complete report, Making Every Drop Work: Increasing Water Efficiency in California's Commercial, Industrial and Institutional (CII) Sector, is available online from NRDC.

February of 2008, Governor Schwarzenegger called for a 20 percent
reduction in per capita water use by 2020, and legislation to help
reach that target is currently pending in the State Assembly (AB 49).
California's CII sector - which includes office buildings, hotels, oil
refineries, golf courses, schools and universities, restaurants and
manufacturers - is responsible for one-third of urban water use, making
progress in this sector essential to reaching this reduction goal. The
CII sector uses the equivalent of more than a million Olympic-sized
swimming pools of water annually. NRDC estimates California businesses
could save about 25-50 percent of that water with efficiency measures,
or as much as 700,000 -1.3 million acre-feet - the equivalent to
350,000-650,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

efficiency improves water quality, supply and ecosystem health by
reducing polluted landscape runoff and the amount of water taken out of
rivers and streams - making it an important tool in managing the
troubled San Francisco Bay-Delta, and restoring the state's quarter
billion dollar salmon fishery. Water efficiency has also proven to be
good for the bottom line of businesses, as it lowers water bills and
energy costs, as well as wastewater charges and costs for chemicals and
water purification.

Payback for investing in
water-efficient technologies is between one and four years. Many water
agencies help accelerate payback by providing free water audits,
equipment and technology rebates, and in some cases, free
water-efficient products and installation.

While the CII
sector has made some progress over the last decade, there is still a
tremendous potential for improving their water efficiency and lowering
their bills. For example, the report reveals:

  • Commercial
    dishwashers use 25 percent of the water in commercial kitchens. A
    water-efficient commercial dishwasher would reduce that water use by 25
    percent. Commercial kitchens can also save up to $1,050 a year on
    energy and water bills with a water-efficient pre-rinse spray valve,
    and cut faucet water use and related bills in half with a low flow
    faucet aerator, which run less than $5 each.
  • The
    average hotel will use more than 604,000 gallons of water every year
    just to wash bed sheets and towels. If that hotel installs a
    water-efficient washing machine, it can cut that number by 38 percent.
  • Landscaping,
    such as at office parks, schools, parks and street medians, is
    responsible for one-third of the CII sector's water use. But with smart
    irrigation controllers that adjust for weather conditions,
    commercial-sized landscapes can reduce water use by 40-50 percent.
  • Restrooms
    are responsible for 15 percent of CII water use. But low-flow
    showerheads, which can be purchased in bulk for $5-12 each, can save
    two to 3.5 gallons of water per shower, and more efficient toilets and
    urinals could save 35,000-64,000 gallons a year.

Performance Leaders Are Already Reaping the Benefits

this new report, NRDC demonstrates how businesses and water agencies
across California are already taking steps to reduce water use.

in Mountain View, Calif., Intel has saved enough water through
efficiency measures since 1995 to supply 180,000 homes for a year. At
their plant in Santa Clara, they developed a recycling system that
allows them to take leftover water and use it for on-site cooling and
landscaping. They also replaced water-intensive air scrubbers with
alternative technology to reduce emissions.

California's Coachella Valley, the owners of Desert Willow Golf Course
built a course irrigated almost entirely with recycled water in the
arid area known for its golf. Not only does it use recycled water to
replenish the course, it was designed to need less water, by including
less turf grass and more desert plants. These technologies have saved
the business $84,600 a year, and enough water to meet the needs of 565
families of four.

Fetzer Vineyard in Mendocino County is
a water-saving star of the wine industry, using about 75 percent less
water than their competitors. On average, it takes about eight gallons
of water to make a bottle of wine - but Fetzer has managed to cut their
process down to just over two gallons per bottle. Water meters to
regulate their usage help them find and repair leaks more easily. And
they use aeration ponds to treat their own wastewater and use it to
irrigate their organic grapes and landscaping. These measures allow
them to save 8 million gallons of water a year

These are
just a few of the examples listed in the report, which provides case
studies and a reference for other CII facilities and urban water
agencies to begin taking advantage of similar savings opportunities.

NRDC works to safeguard the earth--its people, its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends. We combine the power of more than three million members and online activists with the expertise of some 700 scientists, lawyers, and policy advocates across the globe to ensure the rights of all people to the air, the water, and the wild.

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