During the 2014-2017 drought, across California, state agencies and departments took immediate actions to curb water usage at their facilities in response to the drought state of emergency declared by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.

During that time, DGS issued a Management Memo directing all state agencies to reduce water use at their facilities 10 percent by 2015, and 20 percent by 2020, which has been achieved.

As droughts become more frequent in California, state agencies are shifting to making water conservation a way of life working across all state facilities to make permanent water-use savings, regardless of whether we are in a drought year. This webpage shares those actions and serves as a resource to incorporate further best practices.  

State agencies have reduced water use at state facilities by 20 percent compared with a 2010 baseline. This was done through a variety of measures including:

  • Upgraded and replaced thousands of plumbing fixtures with low-water use fixtures
  • Upgraded or replaced landscape irrigation control, sprinklers, and systems
  • Water treatment systems
  • Water line repairs
  • Replacing some institutional commercial dishwashers with water recycling systems
  • Laundry water reclamation system
  • Shutting off water fountains and water features on state property, including the State Capitol grounds during drought emergencies
  • Eliminated all car washes at DGS state garage
  • Other innovative water reduction and conservation measures

At the beginning of California’s 2014-2017 drought, the Department of General Services (DGS) shared with state agencies a set of “best practices” that should be implemented to the fullest extent possible.

These best practices documents include:

In 2014, DGS released Management Memo MM 14-02 and State Administrative Manual (SAM) chapters 1835-1835.7, 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)…”

Governor Gavin Newsom issued a drought proclamation and state of emergency in 50 California counties July 8, 2021 through Executive Order N-10-21, and urged Californians to reduce water use 15 percent compared to 2020 levels.

“…I call on all Californians to voluntarily reduce their water use by 15 percent from their 2020 levels. Commonsense measures Californians can undertake to save water and money include:

  1. Irrigating landscapes more efficiently. As much as 50 percent of residential water use goes to outdoor irrigation, and much of that is wasted due to evaporation, wind, or runoff caused by inefficient irrigation methods and systems. Watering one day less per week, not watering during or immediately after rainfall, watering during the cooler parts of the day and using a weather-based irrigation controller can reduce irrigation water use, saving nearly 8,800 gallons of water per year.
  2. Running dishwashers and washing machines only when full. Full laundry loads can save 15-45 gallons per load. Full dishwasher cycles can save 5-15 gallons per load.
  3. Finding and fixing leaks. A leaky faucet that drips at the rate of one drip per second can waste nearly 3,200 gallons per year.
  4. Installing water-efficient showerheads and taking shorter showers. Keeping showers under five minutes can save 12.5 gallons per shower when using a water-efficient showerhead.
  5. Using a shut-off nozzle on hoses and taking cars to commercial car washes that use recycled water.”


Dan Burgoyne , Sustainability Manager

Department of General Services
Office of Sustainability

707 Third St
West Sacramento, CA 95605

Contact Information: 

☎ (916) 376-5010