Facing record drought conditions, salons and spas in the Southwest are re-evaluating their water usage, looking for ways — both big and small — to cut back. We’ve seen salons take steps from installing flow restrictors at washing stations to discouraging the use of robes to cut down on laundry. Unfortunately, no matter where we live, water is a dwindling resource. “Fresh, clean water is something most of us take for granted in our everyday life,” says Tamara Jercha, founder of the National Association of Eco-Friendly Salons & Spas (NAEFSS). “The bad news is, our water comes from underground aquifers, in which levels have dropped more than 100 feet since the 1940s. The water deficit in the United States is estimated at about 3.7 trillion gallons per year.”

The good news, says Jercha, is that industries in the U.S. use 36% less water than they did in the 1950s. This is largely due to water reuse strategies in industrial processes, as well as the Energy Policy Act of 1992 mandating the use of water-conserving plumbing fixtures. “Still, increasing demands for potable water combined with current drought situations calls for immediate action,” she says.

Below, Jercha offers 10 things you can do — at home and in the salon — to use water more efficiently:

1. Fix all leaky fixtures. A slow drip can waste 150 to 300 gallons per month. A fast drip can waste 600-900 gallons.

2. Replace pre-1992 toilets with high-efficiency models to save 22,000 gallons of water annually. The 1992 Energy Policy Act requirement is 1.6 gallons per flush; older toilets can use 4-8 gallons per flush.

3. Change 2.5 GPM showerheads to 1.75 GPM water-conserving models to save more than 7,500 gallons of water annually (based on an average seven-minute shower by four people).

4. Turn off water while working in hair treatments.

5. Purchase water-efficient appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers.

6. Run appliances only when fully loaded.

7. Install waterless urinals.

8. If your local municipality permits it, consider installing a system that will allow you to use water from your shampoo bowls and lavatory sinks to flush toilets.

9. Install a D’Mand Hot Water Delivery System — an electronically activated water-pumping system that quickly delivers hot water to a fixture while returning water that has been sitting in the hot-water pipes back to the hot-water tank. This avoids long periods of running water until it gets warm.

10. As an alternative, install a tankless hot water unit. This saves water since you don’t let it run to heat up, and it saves energy since you don’t have to continually heat the water in your tank. It also saves space in your salon.

“I realize that the majority of these tips cost money to implement,” Jercha acknowledges. “Keep them in mind when making updates or building new. In our industry, where water is a vital tool, implementing these tips will lower operating costs and make a significant contribution toward becoming environmentally responsible.”

For more information on sustainable salon business practices, go to www.naefss.org.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.