Water Economy: 5 Ways Small Businesses Can Conserve Our Most Precious Resource

by Edgar R. Olivo

Water is at the core of Arizona’s economy, lifestyle and uniqueness. Clean, reliable water sources are important for our communities and economy to thrive. Small businesses from all regions and industry sectors of Arizona’s economy have an active role in supporting policy and investments to secure Arizona’s water future.

Arizona uses around 36% of its water from the Colorado River and water is vital to the economies of the seven-state region through which it flows. An Arizona State University study found that the Colorado River supports $1.4 trillion in economic output, $871 billion in wages and 16 million jobs annually. The river is also experiencing a decline toward the threshold of a first-ever shortage.

Our economic engine is at risk if demand for river resources continues to outstrip supply. Small businesses can play a part in a sustainable solution by following a few easy tips.

  1. Start with a water audit and seal up leaks. Small businesses that use a significant amount of water underestimate just how much water they are using. A water audit will help you assess how much water your business is using each day and identify opportunities to conserve more of it. By doing an audit, you can uncover leaks where inexpensive repairs could help you prevent more water loss and improve your bottom line. Talk to your water company to check for free water audits or rebates to help you with your water-saving initiatives.
  2. Empower your employees to help you save water. It is not likely we waste water intentionally, but without conservation education, it can be difficult for your staff to know what they are doing wrong. Empower your employees with a workplace initiative for responsible water use and management. Start a workplace challenge, publish updates on your company messaging boards, and encourage your entire team to get involved.
  3. Know your water status in your business area. Pay close attention to the major water issues facing your community and state. While it’s commonly known that there is a general water scarcity throughout the Western states, did you know that every state in the country faces its own water challenges? In Arizona, water contamination in groundwater also creates problems. Know the issues facing your area and what your business can do.
  4. Go with low-flow technology. Have you installed low-flow restrictors in your building yet? The difference between older toilets and new, low-flow toilets is pretty significant. Older toilets use as much as 5 gallons to flush compared with low-flow toilets that only use 1.6 gallons. But do not stop with toilets! Low-flow faucet aerators can cut water flow down from 2.2 gallons per minute to 1.5 gallons. Pre-rinse spray valves cut water usage down from 4 gallons to 1.5 gallons. Consider going low flow as a priority in your building management plans.
  5. Re-think landscaping with drought-resistant plants. The State of Arizona is notorious for scorching summers with limited rainfall. A popular trend among local businesses is sustainable landscaping. That means choosing drought-hardy plants, like succulents and cacti, rather than bushes or shrubbery that require significant water to flourish. Others have eliminated grass altogether. Consider replacing your grass with pebble and stone steps. This saves you water and money! Plus, drought-tolerant landscaping communicates to your customers and clients that you value environmental sustainability.

Small businesses can take advantage of free sustainable resources to help take the next step in helping Arizona become cleaner and greener. Check out the Going Green and Going Smart Program, a no-cost on-demand educational program to help small businesses save money and energy and attract business. Also, explore resources at Greenlight Solutions Foundation, a student-led organization that helps small businesses with free water audits and more.

EDGAR RAFAEL OLIVO is a bilingual business educator, economic advisor and contributor for several media outlets. He’s a nonprofit executive who is passionate about education. He is certified in finance and data analytics and holds a business degree from Arizona State University.

Para la versión en español de este artículo, haga clic aquí.

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