As a bit of background- Given the current drought we have been looking for ways to conserve water. Sierra Mar uses approximately 3,500 gallons of water per day (well below the industry average). One of the single largest uses is for spraying off dirty pans and dishes before loading them into the dish machine. Just that one spray handle uses close to 1,000 gallons of water per day.
Last week we installed an air compressor on our dish station to use in place of the water sprayer. By using compressed air we have been able to reduce the sprayer use by 80%. This represents a huge water savings for our restaurant.
Right now California has an estimated 60,000 full service restaurants. If each of these restaurants switched to compressed air for pre-cleaning plates and could save even just 250 gallons per day that would equal over 5 billion gallons of water per year.
While the current requirement for restaurants to only offer drinking water by request does bring awareness to the issue, it does not represent a major water savings. To illustrate, each of our guests drink approximately 2 cups of water when they dine in the restaurant. That equals just over 18 gallons per day of drinking water. Over the course of a year we would save around 6,570 gallons of drinking water - compared with a savings of 292,000 by using the compressed air.
This is an easy and efficient way for restaurants to save water. If other restaurants across the state would start this practice it would make a real difference with water conservation!
By Request, I went with an ultra quiet 1hp electric compressor model to keep noise at a minimal. I paired it with a 50 foot hose and airgun (so you can place it away from water - we put it below the pot sink drying area). You should be able to obtain the entire setup for a couple of hundred dollars. Good luck! Let me know how it works for you.
*Update- For heavy or dried sauces (or other food that can't be removed by air) try doing a quick dip in a soapy bus-tub or use a soapy brush prior to air)