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National Restaurant Association - Restaurateurs seek to help as drought overtakes California

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Restaurateurs seek to help as drought overtakes California

As California faces record droughts, restaurateurs and other business operators as well as area residents are being asked to conserve and reduce their water usage.

“There is an across-the-board awareness among everyone that we need to conserve water,” said Angela Pappas, spokeswoman for the California Restaurant Association. “Our governor has asked everyone to reduce water usage by 20 percent, and our members are taking this very seriously. Restaurants are heavy water users for a number of reasons, many of which have a lot to do with food safety.”

Gov. Jerry Brown proclaimed a state of emergency Jan. 17, and directed state officials to take actions to prepare for drought conditions. According to those officials, the state’s reservoirs are below their record lows at 20 percent less than normal for this time of year.

John Barone, president and founder of New Jersey-based commodities analyst MarketVision, said California’s drought conditions could cause problems for cattle and dairy farmers, but primarily would be an issue for produce growers because of water allocation concerns.

Pappas said the issue is top of mind for CRA’s members.  “They are all digging in to do what they can.”

Many restaurateurs in California are now serving water to customers on request only, Pappas said.

“People tend to leave a lot of water on the table, especially when diligent busers fill their glasses without having to be asked,” she said. “We think customers will be appreciative of [the request-only service]. After all, we are all in this together.”

She added that many operators are waiting to run their dishwashers until they are full and also are cutting down on the amount of running water used.

Pappas said operators are looking at other fixes too. “The next tier of action for restaurateurs would be to make sure equipment is as efficient as possible and that there are no leaks anywhere, especially in the back of the house.”

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