Valley restaurants join water conservation efforts

Valley restaurants join water conservation efforts

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - Valley restaurants are in conservation mode. Many already implemented a small change that could have a big impact on water-saving efforts.

"We made a decision we would no longer serve water automatically," said Willie Rhine, general manager of Lulu's California Bistro in downtown Palm Springs.

If you've dined out recently, you may have noticed a sign next to your place setting. It lets diners know if they want water, they'll have to ask for it.

It's a practice Sherman's Deli began years ago.

"I think homes, restaurants, hotels, everyone who uses water needs to conserve," said Sam Harris, owner of Sherman's.

Beginning in August it'll be mandatory for all restaurants in California to comply with the restriction.

"It has two benefits. One of course is to make sure people are using less water and it also helps to educate the public that we don't want to use water if we don't have to," said Katie Ruark, public information officer for the Desert Water Agency.

Customers we met say they're all for it.

"A lot of people just leave the water sit. They think it's a good idea but they don't drink it so the restaurants dump it and if they really want water they'll ask for it anyway," said Darcy Salvadore who we met dining at Sherman's.

So what happens if a restaurant doesn't follow the new regulations?  That's still up in the air.

"One of the things DWA did was send a letter to the state asking for clarifications for enforcement," Ruark said.

The Desert Water Agency will hold a hearing on August 5 to answer that question and make sure local establishments are up to speed on the new rule.

Until then the agency will continue its outreach to local restaurants by handing out table tents and making sure everyone is on board before next month.

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