Report Shows How Restaurants Are Reducing Water Use


During the five-year California drought, the state took emergency measures to conserve water. California residents and businesses alike were forced to change how they consumed water. The impact on the restaurant industry was visible at every dining table. Like other establishments across the country, California restaurants had long included a glass of ice cold tap water as a standard part of every place setting, but once drought regulations went into effect in 2015, waiters were prohibited from serving water unless guests requested it.

The drought officially ended in 2017 but its lessons are still being heard throughout the foodservice industry.  According to new research from the National Restaurant Association, there has been a growing movement by restaurant operators to reduce water consumption and conserve resources.

In a survey of 500 restaurant owners and operators, the NRA found several ways restaurants are implementing water-saving measures:

  • 44 percent use low-flush toilets
  • 27 percent installed faucet aerators in hand sinks
  • 26 percent have high-efficiency pre-rinse spray valves
  • 24 percent have a tankless water heater
  • 21 percent installed motion-activated toilets or faucets
  • 11 percent installed waterless urinals

Efforts to reduce restaurant water use could have a significant impact on the country’s overall water supply. The U.S. EPA reports that hospitality and foodservice operations account for nearly 15 percent of commercial and industrial water use in the United States. Consumers are taking note as well. The NRA study found that 45 percent of customers consider energy and water conversation an important factor in why they choose a restaurant, indicating that water efficient equipment and technology may not only reduce operating costs, but also could drive revenue.

The full NRA sustainability study can be found here.