While water conditions and restriction in California are making headline news, we should note, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, as of the end of March 2015, 36.8 percent of the contiguous U.S. states are experiencing moderate to severe drought conditions.
And, while California's residents and industry have been ordered to scale back water consumption by 25 percent, it is possible more drought-stricken states will follow suit and also require residents and industry to scale back consumption by about the same percentage.
So how do commercial facilities - office buildings, schools, etc. - reduce water consumption by one-fourth? While it may take a little time, ingenuity, and some costs, according to the Pacific Institute, which conducts research on environment and sustainability issues, it can be done and potentially easier than expected.

The Institute recommends the following five steps that can help reduce water consumption by about 25 percent, if not more:
 1. Fix leaks: Repairing leaking fixtures and pipes can save five to as much as ten percent of the water consumed in a commercial facility.
 2. Retrofit: Old or inefficient restroom fixtures should be retrofitted to reduce water consumption. According to the Institute, the average toilet in California uses 2.8 gallons of water per flush (GPF). This is more than double the 1.28 GPF of a high-efficient toilet.
 3. Replace: With some restroom fixtures such as urinals, it may be more water and cost efficient to replace the unit rather than retrofit. Of the 12 million urinals installed in the U.S., 65 percent use more than 1.0 to as much as 3 GPF. Replacing these with water-efficient urinals can save facilities about 4,000 GPF per urinal annually. Replacing these with waterless urinals can save 35,000 gallons per urinal annually.
 4. Recycling: Many industrial users now use potable (drinkable) water in manufacturing. Using recycled and retreated water can scale back water use considerably with little impact on operations.
 5. Cooling: Related to this, cooling systems can be adjusted to recycle more water, again reducing consumption substantially.

"About half the water consumed in most commercial facilities is used in restrooms," says Klaus Reichardt, founder and CEO of Waterless Company. "Because of this, the first place to look when reducing water consumption should be in the restroom."