DGS Water Conservation Efforts

Governor’s Emergency Drought Declaration ordered state agencies to take action to conserve water:

“State agencies, led by the Department of General Services, will immediately implement water use reduction plans for all state facilities.  These plans will include immediate water conservation actions, and a moratorium will be placed on new, non-essential landscaping projects at state facilities and on state highways and roads.”

Watch a video about DGS water conservation efforts at state-owned facilities.

Watch a video about how private sector building owners are saving water at state-leased buildings.

Actions Taken to Conserve Water at State Facilities

Some immediate steps DGS has taken:

  • Cutting the amount of water used in landscaping at DGS properties by 20 percent.

  • Shutting off water fountains and water features on state property, including the State Capitol

  • Additional water conservation measures at State Capitol. Read more.

  • Instituting a moratorium on non-essential landscaping projects at state facilities.

  • Cancelling contracts for water intensive-window washing at state facilities.

  • Eliminating all car washes in the state garage other than those required for safety.

  • Issuing guidance through the Division of the State Architect to nearly 1,200 school administrators on best practices for conserving water at K-12 schools and community college campuses.
  • Placing signage in restrooms and other areas of state buildings to remind tenants and visitors of the urgent need to save water.  

  • Sending messages to the owners of all state-leased buildings encouraging them to adopt similar water-saving measures as those being undertaken at state-owned properties.

    See a video about DGS water conservation efforts.

Best Practices for Water Conservation

As a first step in the implementation of Governor Brown's directive, the Department of General Services (DGS) distributed to all state agencies a set of “best practices” that should be implemented to the fullest extent possible.

These best practices documents include:

In addition, DGS has convened the State Operations Drought Workgroup consisting of departments that are responsible for a significant number of facilities. DGS will report on the progress of this workgroup to the larger Governor’s Drought Task Force.

Tracking State Water Usage

DGS issued a management memo directing state agencies to establish baseline water use at their facilities.


  • “…State agencies directed to establish baseline water use for each facility they manage…”

  • “All new and renovated state buildings and landscapes shall utilize alternative sources of water…”

  • “State agencies shall purchase, install and operate WaterSense or equivalent (labeled) industry standard fixtures and equipment (including irrigation equipment)…”


Water Conservation Coordinated Actions by the Administration

With California facing its driest year on record, Governor Brown declared a drought State of Emergency  and directed state officials to take all necessary actions to prepare for water shortages.

The California Department of General Services is leading water conservation efforts at state facilities, and the California Department of Transportation is cutting water usage along California’s roadways by 50 percent. Caltrans has also launched a public awareness campaign, putting a water conservation message on their more than 700 electronic highway signs.

In January, the state took action to conserve water in numerous Northern California reservoirs to meet minimum needs for operations impacting the environment and the economy, and recently the Department of Water Resources and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced they would seek the authority to make water exchanges to deliver water to those who need it most. The State Water Resources Control Board announced it would work with hydropower generators and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to preserve water in California reservoirs. Recently the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the California Fish and Game Commission restricted fishing on some waterways due to low water flows worsened by the drought.

The state is working to protect local communities from the dangers of extreme drought. The California Department of Public Health identified and offered assistance to communities at risk of severe drinking water shortages and is working with other state and local agencies to develop solutions for vulnerable communities. CAL FIRE hired additional firefighters and is continuously adjusting staffing throughout the state to help address the increased fire threat due to drought conditions. The California Department of Food and Agriculture launched a drought website to help farmers, ranchers and farmworkers find resources and assistance programs that may be available to them during the drought.

Even as the state deals with the immediate impacts of the drought, it’s also planning for the future. Recently, the California Natural Resources Agency, the California Environmental Protection Agency and the California Department of Food and Agriculture released the California Water Action Plan, which will guide state efforts to enhance water supply reliability, restore damaged and destroyed ecosystems and improve the resilience of our infrastructure.

Governor Brown has called on all Californians to voluntarily reduce their water usage by 20 percent, and the Save Our Water campaign launched four public service announcements encouraging residents to conserve and has resources available in Spanish. Last December, the Governor formed a Drought Task Force to review expected water allocations and California’s preparedness for water scarcity. In May 2013, Governor Brown issued an Executive Order to direct state water officials to expedite the review and processing of voluntary transfers of water and water rights.

Water Watchers

Please join us by becoming a "water watcher" by keeping an eye out to ensure that water is being used effectively at DGS-owned state facilities.

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