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CA Hospitals Pursue Water Conservation in Midst of Drought

By Doug Desjardins  
   August 18, 2015

California hospitals are conducting water audits and adopting water conservation programs in the midst of the worst drought the state has seen in more than a century.

California hospitals are doing their part to conserve water in the midst of a three year drought that's shaping up to be the worst in more than a century.

While hospitals are not subject to emergency water conservation measures mandated by Gov. Jerry Brown in June—which require cities to reduce water consumption by an average of 25%—many are conducting water audits and adopting programs that conserve water and help hospitals and health systems save money.

"We've been working with hospitals for about five years and we've worked with most of the major health systems in California including Kaiser Permanente, Dignity Health, and Aventis," said William Cordray general manager for Water Saver Solutions in Long Beach. "And in most cases, the cost of the improvements pay back in about one year and sometimes less."

In addition to Kaiser and Dignity, the company's list of clients includes Children's Hospital Los Angeles and UC Irvine Medical Center. In July, it conducted a water audit for Tri-City Medical Center that identified several problem areas including old medical equipment sterilizers that dump "gallons and gallons of water," old shower heads without flow controls, and hundreds of faucets that could be equipped with laminar flow restrictors that reduce water use and prevent the build-up of bacteria.

"We've been working on different projects to reduce our energy use and we have water bills that are pretty high, about $40,000 a month," said Chris Miechowski, director of facilities for Tri-City Medical Center, a 397-bed hospital located in Oceanside. "And with the drought becoming a major problem, we want to do our part in conserving water."

The water audit concluded that Tri-City could reduce its water use by about 15% and save about 5 million gallons a year by implementing relatively minor changes. Miechowski said Tri-City plans to adopt the changes this fall. "With saving that much water, we're looking at a payback on investment in less than one year," said Miechowski.

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