California Governor Ed Brown recently issued an executive order that will impact Californians’ water-use habits for the foreseeable future. The order says, in essence, that although California has done a great deal to conserve water during its long-lasting drought, it will still have to do more. These additional measures will affect both residents and businesses. An excerpt from the governor’s order states:

“Increasing long-term water conservation among Californians, improving water use efficiency within the state’s communities and agricultural production, and strengthening local and regional drought planning are critical to California’s resilience to drought and climate change.”

The order called for water conservation techniques that involve:

New restrictions will require California businesses to prepare for the ongoing drought. New restrictions will require California businesses to prepare for the ongoing drought.

  • Using water more wisely
  • Eliminating water waste
  • Strengthening drought resilience
  • Improving agricultural water use efficiency and drought planning

Californians should see the various impacts of this order taking effect between now and early 2017.

Planning for the Future

Californians have cut their water use by 23.9% between June 2015 and March 2016, which saved enough water to provide 6.5 million Californians with water for a year. Yet severe drought is still a critical, ongoing issue for the state. According to Governor Brown, California needs to “move beyond temporary emergency drought measures to adopt permanent changes to use water more wisely and prepare for more frequent and persistent periods of limited water supply.”

What it Means for Businesses

The executive order outlines specific actions that state agencies and water providers will take to reduce water use, which are likely to result in additional restrictions on end water users such as homes and businesses.

The State Water Board will be responsible for “a proposal to achieve a mandatory reduction in potable urban water usage that builds off of the mandatory 25% called for… in 2016”, according to the order.

Achieving this level of conservation will require that businesses to plan for extended drought through significant water-use reductions throughout their operations. Now is the time to prepare for future restrictions, rate increases, and other programs designed to minimize water use.

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Curb Indoor Water Use

Businesses can take advantage of opportunities to reduce indoor water use in preparation for an extended drought. California’s Save Our Water initiative has created a straightforward brochure outlining ways businesses can cut their water use. Here are several areas in which business can gain quick wins in indoor water savings:

  • Find Leaks! – We all know that leaks waste water, but most don’t realize the magnitude of the impact. Leaks often waste thousands of gallons of water and cost thousands of dollars in a short period of time. The easiest ways to find leaks are checking your utility bills for unexpected spikes in usage, reading your water meter during a time when you shouldn’t be using water to see if it’s still moving, or installing monitoring hardware and software that alerts you of unusual usage patterns.
  • Encourage Behavior Change – Even small changes in behavior, like not leaving the water on when washing dishes or using a broom instead of a hose to clean sidewalks, can add up. Note: part of the executive order is that the State Water Board will now prohibit using water to hose-off sidewalks or other “practices that waste potable water.”
  • Invest in Better Fixtures – Making water-saving changes such as installing low-flow toilets does have up-front costs, but also long-term savings potential. Try calculating the savings to see how quickly they provide a return on investment. With the quickly rising cost of water, these improvements pay for themselves in a shorter time than you might think. If you’re a Banyan Water customer, contact us to learn how we’ve simplified those calculations for you.

Decrease Outdoor Water Use

Most people don’t realize how much water is being used outdoors and some of the very simple solutions available to avoid outdoor water waste.

  • Just Say NO to Sprinklers in the Rain – We’ve all seen it:  sprinklers running full-blast right in the middle of a rainstorm. In drought conditions, it’s especially painful to see this type of waste. A good solution to this problem is an irrigation system that automatically detects rain and shuts off for a set period of time when it rains. Having a human actively manage your water use can also significantly save irrigation water. On properties where Banyan Water combines water-saving technology with active management, outdoor water use is usually cut back by at least 50% without any landscaping changes.
  • Again, Find Leaks! – Especially on a large property, water leaks outdoors may be more difficult to notice than indoors. Walk the property and check irrigation systems for broken heads, heads with low pressure, or spots that appear to be over-irrigated. Any of those could be signs of an issue. Of course, the same monitoring software and hardware that can be used indoors is useful for detecting leaks outdoors.
  • Drought-Tolerant Landscaping – A great variety of plants will grow in California even during a drought. Moving from water-loving plants to hardscapes, artificial turf, or drought-tolerant plants can help cut back on water use.

The drought in California will continue to impact businesses into the foreseeable future. Governor Brown’s efforts will continue pushing Californians to become more conscious and proactive about its water use. You can get ahead of the issue by developing  your business plan for an extended drought now.

Get the State of Water info guide