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Maryland State Government Maryland Department of the Environment
Health Care Facilities

Water Saving Tips for Health Care Facilities

GENERAL SUGGESTIONS

  • Increase employee awareness of water conservation.
  • Seek employee suggestions on water conservation; locate suggestion boxes in prominent areas.
  • Conduct contests for employees (e.g., posters, slogans, or conservation ideas).
  • Determine other methods of water conservation.
  • Install signs encouraging water conservation in employee and customer restrooms.
  • When cleaning with water is necessary, use budgeted amounts.
  • Read water meter weekly to monitor success of water conservation efforts.
  • Assign an employee to monitor water use and waste.
  • Determine the quantity and purpose of water being used.
  • Install signs encouraging water conservation in patient and nonpatient rooms and restrooms.
  • Use paper cups for drinking water instead of free-flowing drinking fountains.

BUILDING MAINTENANCE

  • Check water supply system for leaks and turn off any unnecessary flows.
  • Repair dripping faucets, showers and continuously running or leaking toilets.
  • Reduce the water used in toilet flushing by either adjusting the vacuum flush mechanism or installing toilet tank displacement devices (dams, bottles, or bags).
  • Install flow reducers and faucet aerators in all plumbing fixtures whenever possible. As fixtures wear out, replace them with water saving models.
  • Shut off water supply to equipment and rooms not in use.
  • Discontinue water circulation pumping in unoccupied areas.
  • Ensure return of steam condensate to the feed water tank for re- use.
  • Shut off spray coil units, except where humidity in critical areas cannot be maintained by other means or where the units are used to reduce chiller operation.
  • Keep hot water pipes insulated.
  • Avoid excessive boiler and air conditioner blow down. Monitor total dissolved solids levels and blow down only when needed.
  • Minimize the water used in cooling equipment, such as air compressors, in accordance with the manufacturer recommendations.

CAFETERIA AND KITCHEN AREAS

  • Turn off the continuous flow used to clean the drain trays of the coffee/milk/soda beverage island.
  • Turn dishwasher off when not in use. Wash full loads only.
  • Use water from steam tables to wash down cooking area.
  • Do not use running water to melt ice or frozen foods. If necessary, use ponded water.
  • Use water-conserving ice makers.
  • Provide table signs in cafeteria urging water conservation.
  • Wash vegetables in ponded water; do not let water run in preparation sink.
  • Recycle rinse water from the dishwater.

LAUNDRY FACILITIES

  • Reprogram machines to eliminate a rinse or suds cycle, if possible, and not restricted by health regulations.
  • Reduce water levels, where possible, to minimize water required per load of washing.
  • Wash full loads only.
  • Evaluate wash formula and machine cycles for water use efficiency.

OPERATIONS

  • Turn off water required for film processing or cooling in the X-ray department when not in use.
  • Recycle water where feasible, consistent with state and county requirements.
  • Use full loads in sanitizer, sterilizer, dishwasher, and washing machine consistent with infection control requirements.
  • Overhaul faulty steam traps on sterilizers.
  • As appliances or fixtures wear out, replace with water-saving models.
  • Reduce the load on air conditioning units by shutting off air conditioning when and where it is not needed.
  • Recover condensate from air conditioners, refrigerators, freezers, and ice machines; use it as make-up water.

EXTERIOR AREAS

  • Inventory outdoor water use for landscaped areas.
  • Do not water landscape every day; two-to-three times a week is usually sufficient.
  • Wash autos, buses, and trucks less often.
  • Discontinue using water to clean sidewalks, driveways, loading docks, and parking lots.
  • Consider using brooms or motorized sweepers.
  • Stop hosing down sidewalks, driveways, and parking lots.
  • Wash autos, buses, and trucks less often.
  • Avoid plant fertilizing and pruning that would stimulate excessive growth.
  • Remove unhealthy plants so remaining plants can benefit from the water saved.
  • In many cases, older, established plants require only infrequent irrigation. Look for indications of water need, such as wilt, change of color, or dry soils.
  • Install soil moisture overrides or timers on sprinkler systems. Time watering, when possible, to occur in the early morning or evening when evaporation is lowest.
  • Irrigation equipment should apply water uniformly.
  • Investigate the advantages of installing drip irrigation systems.
  • Mulch around plants to reduce evaporation and discourage weeds.
  • Remove thatch and aerate turf to encourage the movement of water to the root zone.
  • Avoid runoff and make sure sprinklers cover just the lawn or garden, not sidewalks, driveways, or gutters.
  • Do not water on windy days.

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