In Arizona, approximately 15 percent of the water supply is for commercial, industrial and institutional uses. This includes water used by commercial buildings, hospitals, schools, golf courses, parks, power plants and other industries.  Some of these entities receive municipal water supplies, while others have rights to wells and pump their own water. Arizona businesses, industries and institutions are encouraged to conserve the water they use, whether or not they are regulated by state law.

Conservation Requirements for Industrial Water Users

In the State's Active Management Areas, facilities, turf-related properties and industries that have their own groundwater rights are defined as industrial water users. Chapter 6 of the Third Management Plan and its modifications describe their conservation requirements. The section below defines the various categories of the "industrial sector,"  which uses approximately seven percent of Arizona’s water supplies. Chapter 5 of the Third Management Plan and its modifications describe the conservation requirements for facilities and industries that receive municipal water, such as landscaped public rights-of-way, turf-related properties and other non-residential customers that receive water from municipal water providers.

Cattle Feedlot Operations

The cattle industry uses water for livestock drinking water, dust control, feed mixing, fire protection and other purposes. Maximum annual allotments are based on water-use needs per head of cattle.

Dairy Operations

Dairies use water for cooling, cleaning, livestock drinking water and other purposes. Conservation requirements are based on water-use needs per cow in the base program. In addition, the Third Management Plan offers a "Best Management Practices" (BMP) program for dairies to allow greater flexibility in water use per cow while still maintaining a high level of water-efficient technology. 

Large-scale Cooling Facilities

Any cooling facility with a total cooling capacity of at least 1000 tons must be managed to maintain operating efficiency while minimizing wastewater for disposal. The Second Management Plan regulated only new cooling facilities with over 250 tons capacity. The changes were in response to input from the regulated community. Conservation requirements include maintaining enough cycles of concentration to meet a minimum concentration of silica or total hardness in blow-down water.

Large-scale Power Plants

Large power plants producing 25 megawatts or more of electricity must achieve a specified number of “cycles of concentration,” a measure of the degree to which cooling water is recycled. As water is recycled, salt concentrations increase due to evaporation and fresh water must be added for proper operation. Maximizing cycles of concentration saves water. Pre-1985 facilities must achieve seven or more cycles, and post-1984 facilities 15 or more cycles.

Metal Mines

Metal mining facilities that use or intend to use 500 acre-feet or more per year are regulated. An acre-foot is equivalent to 325,851 gallons. Specific requirements are intended to maximize recycling, minimize evaporation losses, and minimize water used in tailing transport, dust control and revegetation. Metal mines must also prepare long-range conservation plans. Mines that began operation after 1984 and new facilities must meet additional requirements designed to minimize water waste.

New Large Landscape Uses

Areas planted with water-intensive plants are limited to a maximum area of 10,000 square feet (20,000 sq. ft. for hotels and motels) plus 20 percent of the total landscapable area in excess of 10,000 sq. ft. (or 20,000 sq. ft. for hotels and motels). The surface area of pools and ponds are counted in the water-intensive area because of evaporation. For example, if a non-hotel facility has a total of 15,000 sq. ft. available for planting, and no water features, the maximum area that could be planted with high water-use plants would be 11,000 sq. ft. (i.e., 10,000 + 0.20 (15,000-10,000) = 11,000).

Sand and Gravel Facilities

Sand and gravel facilities that use or intend to use more than 100 acre-feet of water per year must: construct disposal ponds or install clarifiers to collect and reuse runoff and drainage water; construct their facilities to maximize reclamation of wash water; implement measures to reduce water used for dust control and cleaning; and, prepare and implement long-range water conservation plans.

Turf-Related Facilities

Facilities with ten or more acres of turf, including golf courses, cemeteries, parks, schools and housing-development common areas are regulated. ADWR calculates annual water allotments based on the acres of turf, low-water-use landscaping, and lake surface area. New facilities have limitations on the acreage of turf and surface area of lakes eligible to receive an allotment. Turf facilities have flexibility accounts with credit and debit limits to adjust for droughts and wet periods. As an incentive to use treated effluent for landscape watering, each acre-foot of effluent used for landscape watering is counted as 0.7 acre-foot in determining compliance with the allotment. Allotments are not enforceable when facilities use 100 percent effluent. Facilities are required to develop site-specific landscape water conservation plans. Water saving strategies include installation of state-of-the-art efficient landscape watering systems, reduction of turf, use of low-water-use plants, mulching to reduce evaporation and proper soil preparation.


Conservation Tools for Commercial, Industrial, and Institutional Facilities

This section is designed to assist business owners and facility managers in establishing and implementing effective water conservation strategies. It provides conservation tips and information about planning, audits and technologies. For a simple summary of some of these conservation tips, review our Water Conservation Ideas for Businesses.

Facility Managers

The following detailed information is available on developing a water management plan, checklists, and water audit forms for your facility:
Developing a Water Management Program: 6 Steps to Develop a Water Management Plan

Sample Forms:

Facility Maintenance Staff

Facility Water Use: Checklist for Facility Maintenance Staff

Sample Forms:

Landscape Maintenance Staff

Irrigation System Inspection and Repair

Sample Forms:

Please visit our landscaping page for more information!

Office Buildings

Efficient operation of a facility is important in many ways, not least of which is saving water and energy resources, as well as money. Heating and cooling of large facilities often uses a great deal of water. Cooling towers are one of the biggest commercial/industrial water consumers. Most cooling towers are used to reject heat from air conditioning systems or are used to cool other equipment (such as refrigerator/freezer cases) with large heat loads.

Additional uses include:

  • Evaporative cooler equipment for space cooling

  • Humidifiers to add moisture to the air

  • Boilers in large heating systems

  • Landscaping

  • Toilets, faucets and showerheads, which account for most domestic uses of water in an office setting

Please visit our water saving technologies page for more information!

Schools, Colleges & Universities 

Increasing awareness, cooperation and involvement are critical to the success of any water conservation effort. There are a number of ways in which an individual school or district can communicate the importance of water conservation and efficient use of water resources to its facility and maintenance employees, teachers and students.

Schools and educational facilities use water in a variety of ways. These uses include:

  • Domestic plumbing in restrooms and drinking fountains

  • Cooling and heating of buildings

  • Kitchens and cafeterias for cooking, dishwashing, ice machines, etc.

  • Irrigation of turf and landscaping

  • Miscellaneous uses in laboratories, shops and for other maintenance purposes

Please visit our water saving technologies page for more information!

Restaurants & Cafeterias

ADWR Fact Sheet: Water Efficient Restaurant Technologies applies to any facility or business with a kitchen, including but not limited to restaurants, schools, hospitals, hotels and resorts.

The majority of a restaurant's total water use is in the kitchen. In large facilities, the kitchen uses a tremendous amount of water to keep food cool or frozen for meal preparation and for dishwashing. Toilets and faucets account for additional water use.

Specific uses include:

  • Commercial dishwashers, prewash sprayers, garbage disposers

  • Toilets, faucets, showerheads

  • Hot water supply and water softeners

  • Water purification systems

  • Cooling towers, evaporative condensers in large facilities

  • Refrigeration/freezer equipment to cool walk-in freezers' compressors

  • Landscaping and outdoor water features

  • Mist cooling systems

  • For cleaning the kitchen, dining room, outdoor patios and other common areas

Hotels, Motels & Resorts

ADWR Fact Sheet: Water Saving Tips and Technologies for Pools and Spas

Reducing water use can lower utility bills (water, sewer, energy) and create a comfortable atmosphere for guests as well as employees.

The resort industry uses water for:

  • Domestic plumbing in restrooms in public areas, on-site restaurants and guest rooms toilets, faucets, showerheads

  • Heating and cooling equipment such as cooling towers and boilers

  • In kitchens for commercial dishwashers, prewash sprayers, garbage disposals, plate cleaning troughs, hot water heaters

  • Commercial washers to launder guest linens, towels, etc

  • Water softeners

  • Landscaping and mist cooling systems

  • Swimming pools, decorative ponds, fountains, waterfalls

  • General cleaning and maintenance

Hospitals & Health Care Facilities

ADWR Fact Sheet: Tips and Technologies for Medical Facilities

Hospitals and healthcare facilities use significant volumes of water in many ways. These uses include:

  • Domestic uses in restrooms (sinks with faucets, toilets, urinals and showers)

  • Cooling and heating the buildings

  • Kitchens and cafeterias for patient, employee and visitor meals, and at drinking fountains

  • On-site commercial laundries

  • X-ray film processing, if the switch to digital imagery has not been made

  • Turf and landscape watering

  • Cleaning and sanitation

  • Miscellaneous uses in laboratories, operating rooms, shops and for other maintenance purposes

  • Sterilizers and autoclaves

Commercial Laundry Facilities

Conventional washer-extractors typically use around 1.3 to 3.5 gallons per pound of dry cloth. These facilities use water and energy not only for wash and rinse cycles, but also for steam-press equipment, reclamation of dry clean solvents, and back flushing filters. With so many water and energy intensive processes, it is important to save water wherever and whenever possible.

ADWR Fact Sheet: The Commercial Laundry Facility provides information on professional laundry facilities, hospitals, hotels, prisons, etc. To find out about multi-family laundry facilities, please visit the Residential section of this website.

Commercial & Industrial Car Washes

Carwash businesses pay twice for each gallon used - once through the water bill and once through the sewer bill. Choosing the right system for your business is one way you can significantly cut down on the cost of obtaining and disposing of water.

ADWR Fact Sheet: Tips and Technologies for Commercial and Industrial Car Washes