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Creative ways to conserve water during British Columbia's drought

British Columbia is in a state of emergency: most of the southwest half of the province is now in a level four drought classification. Up until 2 weeks ago, this drought was entirely contained within Vancouver Island, but extremely dry conditions and low streamflow have left most of the province dry. The Sunshine Coastal Regional District (SCRD) was first to declare the emergency, and now the ban has flowed through to other parts of the province. The drought classification means a restriction on all commercial use of water and residential outdoor tap use effective Tomorrow, Thursday, Aug. 13.

The average restaurant uses 5,800 gallons of water per day, with 52 percent of that being used in kitchens, and another 31 percent going down the drain in restrooms, according to the EPA's WaterSense project. We can imagine that the ban will be very difficult for small businesses and restaurants and pose a challenge during normal operation. In an effort to find creative ways for restaurateurs conserve water during this time, we have put together a list of ways to ingeniously save water and help the province. 

From the front of house to the back, here are some tips to help you save water: 


  • Only serve water to patrons upon request and ask before refilling a glass. 
  • Use left over water from tables and water from boiling pots (once cooled down) to water your lawn or plants instead of throwing it down the drain.
  • Adjust your ice machines to dispense less ice.
  • Don't let those faucets run unnecessarily! Turn them off when not in use. 
  • Washing vegetables and fruits in a large bowl or tub of water and scrubbing them with a vegetable brush instead of using your faucet as a power-washer is a winning idea.
  • Take some time to think ahead. Avoid using water to defrost frozen foods; instead leave them in the fridge overnight.


  • Fill up those dishwashers! Only operate dishwashers when they are full.
  • Don't forget to shut them off when not in use.
  • Double check your manual and see what is the proper flow rate for your dishwasher -  and make sure your disposal is not using more water than recommended!
  • Monitor the wash formula and machine cycles for efficiency; you may want to reprogram machines to eliminate a cycle.
  • When manually washing dishes, use the three-component sink for dipping dishes and equipment, instead of using running water.

Garbage Disposal

  • Whenever possible, scrape dishes using a scraper, squeegee or absorbent over the garbage can before rinsing and loading into dishwasher. Use strainers to reduce food waste and reduce rinsing
  • Shut off your appliances when you're not using them! Did you know that you can control the flow of water to the disposal with a valve that shuts off water when the unit is not operating?
  • Double check your manual and see what is the proper flow rate for your disposal, and make sure your disposal is not using more water than recommended.

With a little planning and care, you can do your part to reduce water consumption during this time. 

Interested in conserving water and energy in your restaurant for more than just this ban? Check out this great article from FSR Magazine and get saving!
Credit to The Southwest Florida Water Management District and FSR Magazine for some ideas on tips and credit to News in Vancouver for the image


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