Business Watch:

Less water saves money

In response to decreased rainfall, water districts urge retailers to conserve by offering free products and rebate programs.

October 14, 2007|By Michael Miller

Newport-Mesa’s water districts are offering a deal to businesses during California’s ongoing drought: You save us water and we’ll save you money.

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California announced last week that it would have to reduce water shipments and increase prices in response to the scant rainfall of the last two years. Even before the announcement, the Irvine Ranch and Mesa Consolidated water districts had been urging retailers and residential complexes to conserve through industrial surveys, free products and rebates.

Barry Carlson, a resource efficiency specialist for the Mesa Consolidated Water District, said many companies didn’t put water conservation high on their lists of priorities because other expenses were so much higher.


By offering reduced rates on water-efficient clothes washers, toilets and other products, the district hoped to encourage business owners to cut their usage.

“For some business owners, the water bill may not be as high as a lot of bills they have,” Carlson said. “So, monetarily, they’re not looking at water as seriously as something else they have to pay monthly. So when you go talk to business owners and say, ‘You can save money, but it’s going to cost you money up front,’ that’s different for business owners, and that’s where a rebate really helps.”

In addition to negotiating lower prices for equipment, the district — which covers Costa Mesa, part of Newport Beach and John Wayne Airport — is conducting studies of local businesses to see how much they could reduce water usage.

Carlson said his group had found that one Westside company, which he declined to identify, could save more than 6.5 million gallons per year.

The Irvine Ranch Water District, which also covers parts of Costa Mesa and Newport Beach, offers free devices at its headquarters in Irvine, including low-flow shower heads, faucet aerators and dye tablets to check for leaks in toilets.

A number of businesses around town are taking their own measures to save water.

Courtney Wiercioch, a spokeswoman for John Wayne Airport, said administrators had implemented waterless urinals and motion-activated faucets and were working with a landscape contractor to water the airport’s lawns only as much as needed.

Doug Lofstrom, the vice president of events and facilities at the Orange County Fairgrounds, said he had met with members of the Mesa Consolidated Water District and was seeking ways to streamline in the future.

“We appreciate their efforts to involve us in programs like this,” he said.

MICHAEL MILLER may be reached at (714) 966-4617 or at

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