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CDCR Prisons Reduce Water Consumption
Published: 04/03/2009

SACRAMENTO - Today the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) announced it has achieved a 21 percent annual reduction in its water usage, saving 2.4 billion gallons of water- enough to fill approximately 65,000 swimming pools.

CDCR's water conservation program began in 2006 with a pilot project to install "flush meters" on toilets in selected prisons. In 2008, under the direction of Governor Schwarzenegger's Executive Order S-06-08 declaring that California is in a state of drought, CDCR set a goal of reducing water consumption by 20 percent statewide. On February 27, 2009 Governor Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency on water shortage in response to three years of drought conditions.

"As California's largest state agency and a major water user, Corrections has taken steps to drastically reduce water consumption and prepared a comprehensive drought response plan in anticipation of another dry summer," said CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate. "CDCR's expansive water savings program has reviewed water usage in our 33 prisons and correctional facilities across the state. We are reducing water consumption on a massive scale through a combination of methods including conservation, elimination of nonessential use, retrofits, and increased efficiencies. Through the efforts of our wardens and staff across the state, we have achieved the Governor's goal for our agency of reducing consumption by 20 percent, and are continuing to search for new and innovative means to lessen the impact of the drought."

To comply with the Governor's Executive Order, CDCR has enacted the following measures:

Flush meters have been installed at nearly one-third of all adult institutions, with more under construction in 2009. Institutions with flush meters result in a 27 percent average annual savings of water, versus 17 percent for institutions without flush meters.

Institutions are now reporting monthly water consumption to CDCR Headquarters. Prisons and other facilities have enacted low-or-no-cost water conservation methods. Headquarters has distributed a "Best Management Practices Water Management & Conservation" document to all institutions that covers:

eliminating nonessential water use;

modifying practices for water efficient landscaping;

leak detection and repair - building systems and equipment;

water-efficient irrigation; and

laundries and vehicle washing.On-site Water Consumption Surveys have been initiated at prisons. CDCR has identified other opportunities for additional water savings through operational modifications and best practices in inmate housing, kitchens, grounds and laundries.

Additional water conservation projects have been launched.

"This is just the beginning," said Deborah Hysen, CDCR's Chief Deputy Secretary, Facility Planning, Construction and Management Division which oversees the effort. "Through a centralized reporting process and basic surveys we are conserving more water than ever before. As the drought continues we hope to enact additional water savings programs."

CDCR's water conservation efforts are part of its agency-wide environmental resource conservation program. CDCR is on-track to achieve the goal laid out by the Governor of reaching a 20 percent reduction in energy usage by 2015. These savings will be realized through the use of solar photovoltaic power plants, implementing peak load reduction programs, and by installing the latest in lighting technology. CDCR has been recognized as a national leader and as the first state government agency member of the Climate Registry.

Link to CDCR Energy Savings website, which includes photographs, water savings tips and video: http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/CDCR_Going_Green/water_savings.html


  1. water-miser on 03/29/2011:

    This issue is just as important now as it was two years ago, when the article was written. There about 2.3 million incarcerated adults in the U.S. now, and they all must take showers. Budgetary constraints make it hard to lay out big money for sweeping facilities changes, even if these changes pay for themselves over time. The main point I would make, as a manufacturer of l.5 gpm, tamper resistant prison showerheads, is that you can start small and make a big difference in water and energy savings. Facilities managers do not need to contract with big energy service companies to see quick savings. We have done small lot retrofits for a number of prisons with great results. Water and energy savings of 40 percent are typical when a few hundred (or even a few dozen) 2.5 gpm prison showerheads are replaced with 1.5 gpm prison showerheads. Thinking small, and acting at the facilities and lead plumber level, can get the job done! David Malcolm High Sierra Showerheads http://www.highsierrashowerheads.com

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