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Commercial, industrial and institutional buildings consume nearly 20 percent of the drinking water in the U.S. Cutting back on commercial use by a mere 10 percent could save more than 2 trillion gallons of water a year. Efficient use of water is good for both the environment and your bottom line.

Saving water should be front of mind for facility managers, for many reasons. From a financial standpoint, using less water will save the facility money on water bills. While there may be an initial upfront cost (e.g. the cost of purchasing high-efficiency toilets to replace outdated models) the costs will likely be recouped as the facility’s water bills go down. Such actions often reduce not only water usage and costs but energy usage and costs as well. For example, if a restaurant installs faucet aerators that reduce the amount of hot water needed for a given task, the energy cost of heating water will also be reduced. There is a clear financial case for implementing water conservation and efficiency measures for nearly every commercial facility.

Saving water makes financial sense, but it is also the socially and ecologically responsible choice. Reducing water consumption in a utility’s service area helps delay or prevent the need for construction of additional water infrastructure, which can be expensive and damaging to the environment. Reducing water consumption protects water supply for future needs and helps maintain environmental flows, i.e. keeps water in aquifers, rivers, and streams where it meets the needs of flora and fauna and provides spiritual and recreational benefits. For public-facing commercial water users, improving water efficiency indicates to customers that the facility is committed to their social responsibility.

The first step is to determine where most of the water use occurs in your facility. From there, you can implement water-saving procedures and maintenance routines, and repair or replace any points of excessive water waste.


  • Use WaterSense labeled products (toilets, urinals, faucets and shower heads) when applicable.

  • Follow Energy Star guidelines and use Energy Star rated equipment.

  • In commercial kitchens, replace pre-rinse spray valves with valves that flow at 1.28 gallons per minute or less.

  • Consider water efficiency in any performance based contracting done to increase water use efficiency.

  • Make water savings a high priority in contracts with vendors.

  • Regularly check systems and equipment for leaks.

  • Don't use or install ornamental water features unless they recycle water.

  • Provide employee education on water conservation and encourage staff to be mindful of usage.


  • Cap hoses with shut-off valves or manual spray heads.

  • Routinely check for exterior leaks.

  • Don't use or install ornamental water features unless they recycle water.

  • Use water-efficient equipment and procedures.

  • Implement maintenance routines to prevent undetected leaks.


If you are in charge of your commercial irrigation and landscaping, try the following tips:

  • The amount of irrigation varies depending on the time of year, rainfall and soil conditions. Please refer to the Water Wise Irrigation Guide below for guidelines to follow.

  • Turn your irrigation timer off after rainfall events and let your lawn “tell” you when you need to turn the timer back on.

  • If a particular zone begins to show signs of stress, only set the irrigation system to irrigate the stressed zone, don’t run the entire system.

  • Use a hose with an automatic shut off nozzle to water flower beds and dry spots.

  • Learn to operate your irrigation system properly and check your settings monthly to be sure that it is operating on the proper day and time. Also verify that no “extra” start times are accidentally turned on. 

  • Check rain sensors monthly to ensure that they are not clogged with debris.

  • Follow Florida Friendly Landscaping Principles.

  • Cut your grass at the highest recommended height (4” for St. Augustine or Bahia, 2” for Empire Zoysia).

  • Mow regularly, cutting no more than 1/3 of the grass length

  • Keep mower blades sharp. Dull blades tear grass, opening it to disease, and cause grass to appear tan and ragged.

a. Recommended Zone Run Times are based on normal rainfall conditions.

  • During times of drought, you may need to supplement your irrigation system by hand watering using a hose with an automatic shut off nozzle.

  • During times of rainfall, you may be able to turn your irrigation system off for an extended period of time.

  • The Florida Water Management District may impose additional watering restrictions as part of a water shortage order that must be complied with.


Grants (cost-share reimbursements) of up to $20,000 are available for water conservation projects that improve water use efficiency and help protect the Southwest Florida Water Management District resources.

A wide variety of nonagricultural water users are eligible for the program, such as:

  • Commercial properties

  • Hotels

  • Apartment complexes

  • HOAs and condo associations

  • Industrial facilities

  • Government facilities

  • Schools

  • Golf courses and more!

Program Quick Facts

  • Maximum reimbursement of 50% of eligible project costs, up to $20,000 per project

  • Project must receive District approval before expenditures begin

  • Water savings will need to be calculated on a project-by-project basis

  • Projects must be completed within one year of the awarded date

  • Projects must take place within the Water Management District (see map)

  • Funding will be awarded on a “first come, first serve” basis until depleted

  • Through a partnership with Tampa Bay Water Wise, some water users may qualify for additional funding (total incentive up to $40,000) 

Eligible projects include, but are not limited to:

  • Toilet, showerhead, and plumbing fixture upgrades

  • Irrigation system improvements

  • Weather stations for irrigation control

  • Cooling tower modifications and pretreatment systems

  • High efficiency commercial/industrial processing equipment

Visit SWFWMD - WISE for more information!

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