Reducing Water Use

Convenience retailers are finding cost-saving and environmental benefits by significantly reducing their water use through a variety of ways, including landscaping, car wash and water-efficient products throughout the store.

When exploring potential cost savings, many communities have rebates, grants and low-interest loans to make water-saving investments even more lucrative.


It is possible in some parts of the country for landscaping to thrive on rainfall alone, but in many places some sort of irrigation is needed. During summer months, landscape watering can more than double water bills. EPA’s WaterSense program outlines ways that can help retailers reduce landscape water use. 

Water Efficient Technology

After conducting a materiality assessment to identify business and environmental opportunities, RaceTrac prioritized reducing the amount of water it was using for landscape irrigation. 

After evaluating two competing technologies in 2016 pilot projects—one that used water sensors to determine water needs and another based on smart controller technology that uses predicted weather patterns to determine watering needs—RaceTrac determined that the smart controller technology met its needs.

Other convenience store owners have found similar environmental and financial benefits: 

  • QuikTrip uses smart water controllers to monitor its irrigation needs at more than 500 stores. Replacing timers to turn sprinklers on and off, the irrigation controllers use weather data to adjust watering needs based on predicted temperatures and rainfall. The investment has reduced QuikTrip’s water use by 100 million gallons and saved $580,000 each year. 
  • Kum & Go uses irrigation controls to reduce its water use. 
  • Wawa uses drip irrigation, to reduce its water use by sending water directly to individual plants instead of having to water an entire landscaped area.

Water Efficient Fixtures

There are a variety of water-efficient fixtures appropriate for use in convenience stores that conserve water and lower water bills. They include:

  • Low-flow toilets: Older commercial toilets use 3- to 7-gallons of water per flush (gpf); the current federal standard is 1.6 gpf. 
  • Low-Flow and Waterless Urinals: Low-flow urinals can save between 0.5 and 4.5 gpf when replacing older models. 
  • Dishwashers: Commercial dishwashers certified by Energy Star are, on average, 40% more energy- and 50% more water-efficient than competing models. 
  • Ice machines: Energy Star-certified commercial ice-cube machines use 10% less energy and 20% less water than competing models. Certified shaved-ice machines are about 16% more energy efficient.

Reclamation at the Car Wash

According to the International Car Wash Association, almost all car washes being built today include water reclamation technology. The association manages a WaterSavers program to help professional car washes promote their environmentally responsible business practices by providing resources that help retailers demonstrate their leadership in this area while attracting customers and lowering costs.

For example, people who wash their car in the driveway use more than 100 gallons of water. WaterSavers-designated car washes require less than 40 gallons by reclaiming water. Some self-serve washes use only 12 to 15 gallons of fresh water per wash and 100% biodegradable chemicals.