As you’re no doubt aware, California is in the throes of one of the worst droughts in our state’s history. In January, a drought state of emergency was declared by Gov. Jerry Brown in which officials have been directed to take actions they deem necessary in order to prepare the state for any possible water shortages.

The governor went a step further last month when he announced the first-ever statewide mandatory water reductions. These restrictions are designed to reduce water usage by 25 percent over the next nine months to save approximately 1.5 million acre-feet of water.

The effects of these restrictions on the state’s economy and our personal lifestyles are as yet unknown, as are their eventual effects on the impact of the drought. But they do serve as a reminder that each one of us as Californians has a responsibility to do all we can to conserve water.

I would like to take this a step further for California business owners and entrepreneurs: I believe that we have an even greater responsibility to conserve our precious water resources. In fact, I think that California business leaders have a moral obligation to include water conservation as part of our corporate culture.

Every business has a corporate culture, whether they realize it or not. This culture reflects the beliefs, values and behaviors of everyone who works at the business, but it starts at the top of the organization.

Business leaders are responsible for setting the tone that ultimately forms the foundation for their corporate culture. When it comes to water conservation, the best way to do this is to proactively put into practice steps that will result in water savings at your place of business.

As the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power notes in its 10-step Water Conservation Program for Businesses, this starts with a sincere desire on the part of management to eliminate water waste.

“For any program to be successful, the desire to conserve water must be present from the highest level of management on down,” the program states. “Upper management should understand and accept the fact that water conservation is necessary, and be fully committed to its support.”

A good first step, according to the program, is to appoint a water conservation manager. Placing a single person in charge of water conservation usually leads to better conservation results..

Setting goals

It’s also important to set a few water conservation goals and apply some common sense to your efforts. Your goals should be realistic, but also aggressive enough to require serious effort on the part of employees and result in noticeable and measurable water conservation results.

As for common sense, don’t overthink things. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the most effective. Break down all the water-using processes in your business in search of simple things employees can do to reduce water usage.

At the same time, investing a little money in high-efficiency devices can result not only in water conservation but also in a long-term return on investment for your company due to water savings. These include high-efficiency toilets and urinals, water-saving showerheads and low-flow aerators on faucet fixtures.

Probably the most important step in the Water Conservation Program for Businesses is to get your employees involved. This brings us back around to creating a corporate culture where water conservation is stressed as being critical.

Employees shouldn’t think of water conservation as just a one-time program or event that starts tomorrow and will end in a month or even a year. Instead, water conservation practices should become so ingrained that they become a part of everyday life at your company.

By the way, this is true not just for water conservation but for conservation of all the resources that your business and employees consume. A culture that embraces the core concepts of conservation, preservation and protection should be extended to all assets throughout the organization.

This is the best way to help ensure future sustainability and growth – not just for your business but for the quality of life that we treasure here in Southern California.

Remember: The fundamental basis of conservation is not the denial or insufficient use of resources. Rather, it is the intelligent and measured use of our limited natural resources.

As business leaders, let’s make a commitment to making conservation a critical component of our corporate cultures.

Arthur F. Rothberg is managing director of CFO Edge in Pasadena, which provides outsourced financial services.

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