Reflections On Foodservice Water Use
Water is one natural resource that most of us take for granted. Turn on a tap, open a valve, pull a handle, and there it is, ready to be put to the myriad uses foodservice and restaurant operators have devised for it. Yet, both the presence and absence of a clean, sufficient water supply can have grave consequences for the hospitality industry and our society as a whole.
As manufacturers of water-using foodservice equipment have learned from harsh experience, untreated groundwater typically contains chlorine, chloramines and other minerals that can cause harmful scale buildup and corrosion. In areas of the U.S. where water quality is lowest, the liquid can even corrode high-gauge stainless steel in as little as six weeks, according to one combi oven sales veteran. This situation requires the installation of complex water filter systems and softeners, as well necessitate additional labor to clean and delime boilers and cooking cabinets. What’s more, the water needed to prepare meal items and beverages must be protected from off-flavors, in addition to contaminants, or customer satisfaction will suffer. As global warming and population growth continue, the demand for fresh, clean water will increase the pressure for equipment makers to find more effective and cost-efficient methods of ensuring its purity.
And that’s the just some of the problems caused when water is available. Though climatic cycles run over many years, even relatively brief periods of drought affect agriculture and ranching in ways that cause immediate consequences such as rising costs and reduced supplies. Regulations to preserve existing water sources and limit non-essential uses (such as lawn watering and car washing) can add some measure of preservation, but other steps need to be taken. In foodservices and restaurants, this should include the purchase of low-flow, pre-rinse spray valves, high-efficiency dish machines, ice-makers and steamers, and pedal-operated faucet controls. Adding rainwater-collection systems and low-water-use landscaping practices not only enhance conservation, they also help to certify an operation’s green credentials.
It’s easy to be sanguine about a natural resource we’ve always had, like abundant clean water. Sometimes, however, complacency leads to unwanted consequences. Working now to purify and conserve water is the best way to avoid this.