W.F. Water Audits Generating Suggestions for Other Restaurants

- For more than a month Wichita Falls health officials have been conducting water audits of the city's restaurants that are top water users.

And now that Stage 5 water restrictions have been implemented, it's crucial everyone conserves.

The city's environmental health administrator has conducted water audits at eight city restaurants.

While most have been national chains, that official says with the push to conserve water in place for so long, she's finding some restaurants actually started cutting back before mandatory restrictions took effect.

The Deli Planet is a family and locally owned restaurant that serves more than service.

It's serving water conservation habits that are impressing the Wichita Falls environmental health administrator.

This water audit found more pluses than minuses on the water conservation checklist.

Dish washing takes a lot of water but Deli Planet uses baskets instead of plates which, along with other practices, reduce its water consumption.

"We  never even did coffee in cups before until the drought so we definitely offer everything in a cup and we offer that bottled water at the lowest cost possible just to give them an alternative to something other than the city water right now," says Rebecca Rutledge, owner of The Deli Planet.

"They were already doing the things that I've been suggesting to restaurants.  The only new thing I saw was the dehumidifier that was a really good idea," says Susan Morris, environmental health administrator for the City of Wichita Falls.

Owners brought in this dehumidifier in 2008 to make the restaurant more comfortable.

However, it also creates  a few gallons of water each day-- water that used to go down the drain but is now being recycled.

"And we water all our shrubbery, our inside plants.  It goes to help clean our floors and down our drains to help flush cleaning fluids away and things like that," Rutledge adds.

Tips this health officials say has this restaurant making every drop count.

Now that Wichita Falls is in Stage 5 water restrictions, Morris plans to audit at least one restaurant a week.

She also says she plans to suggest the dehumidifier tip to other restaurants.

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