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  • Michael Oshman

3 Ways to Conserve Water at Your Restaurant


Cape Town, South Africa will become one of the highest-populated cities to run out of water by mid-summer. Residents and businesses alike adhered to strict water rationing for months, which by early February, dropped to 13 gallons per person, per day.

Cape Town is among other well-known cities that within the past decade have experienced droughts and drought-like conditions. Lack of accessible clean water threatens to cause widespread health problems and shutter businesses.

In 2014, this Sacramento restaurant adopted water conservation practices to adjust to water rationing, while also saving money and preventing any consumer loss in the process.

Restaurant owners can make small, simple shifts in their daily operations to reduce excess, wasteful water use, starting from meal preparation all the way to cleanup.

Utilize New Tech

Technology specially engineered to reduce water waste, including low flow aerators and high efficency pre-rinse spray valves, help reduce the amount of water released during everyday activities. High efficiency pre-rinse spray valves, for example, reduce the amount of water used while cleaning vegetables or dishes.

Energy Star-qualified equipment, from dishwashers to air conditioners, are also designed to function as well as any other machine, but with less water and electricity usage.

Rain barrels are a great way to harvest rainwater and use it for landscaping or washing vehicles. By repurposing rain and greywater with on-site filtration technology, restaurants can earn up to 25 GreenPoints™.

Choose Sustainable Produce

On the whole, vegetables require less water to produce than some forms of meat. The average pound of beef, for example, requires around 1,800 gallons of water to prepare for consumption; soy protein requires less than 300 gallons of water to grow, per-pound.

Opting for “ugly” or disfigured potatoes, tomatoes, and other produce helps restaurants avoid creating too much food waste while also being mindful of the water used to produce these products. Discarding around 100 tomatoes over the course of a year is equivalent to running a full bathtub more than 500 times.

The Hungry Harvest food rescue program collects discarded, “undesirable” fruits and vegetables from farms and delivers them to local farmers markets and restaurants throughout the mid-Atlantic and throughout the southern Eastern Seaboard. Restaurants can opt to join food rescue programs to repurpose the leftover food at the end of a workday, especially if food is still edible, rather than dispose of it in landfills or even compost systems. Joining a food rescue program or donating to a food bank earns a restaurant or food service business an extra 10 GreenPoints™.

Check for Leaks

The easiest and quickest change a restaurant can make is to check all pipes, faucets, toilets, and showers for leaks and drips. Stopping up drippy faucets can be the smallest but most impactful change – a leaky faucet can cost between $20-200 per year, depending on the length or speed of the leak. Combined with low flow aerators, a properly-stopped faucet or pipe will reduce excess water usage and save owners money in the long-term.

Tips for Restaurant Patrons:

  • Ask to hold the water if you plan to order a different drink

  • Order more vegetables or vegetable-based dishes

  • Be mindful of how much water you use when washing your hands

Restaurants can find water-conserving technologies, as well as other GRA-Endorsed products, such as high efficiency spray valves, and resources, on our website. You can learn more about Certified Green Restaurants®, water-conserving eateries across the country on our Restaurant Finder.


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