KSL INVESTIGATES

Every Drop Counts: Utah Restaurant Chain Cuts Back The Automatic Water Pour

Jun 29, 2021, 6:15 PM | Updated: 10:04 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — This week, KSL-TV is exploring simple ways to save water that go beyond how we water our lawns, because every drop counts — especially when 90% of Utah is in extreme drought.

Recently, viewer Gaye England emailed the KSL Investigators about the customary practice of restaurants pouring us a glass of water when we sit down, whether we asked for it or not. 

“I can’t help but wonder why restaurants continue to bring complimentary water to everyone’s table,” England wrote. “So much waste because most who go to restaurants order soda anyway, and the glass of water goes untouched.”  

At Tsunami Restaurant and Sushi Bar in Salt Lake’s 9th and 9th neighborhood, you find fresh seafood flown in from around the world daily, a busy sushi bar that serves up a wide and unique variety of sushi rolls, and a spacious outdoor patio.

What you will not find there is a glass of cool, crisp, refreshing water poured for you the moment you sit down.  

“You can order water, but we don’t serve it by default,” said Julie Hiatt, the restaurant chain’s operations manager. “Obviously, we’ll keep it full once you have your water, but we’re not going to serve it by default.”  

Hiatt said Tsunami Restaurant used to pour out that customary glass of water, whether patrons asked for it or not. Then, an employee pointed out much of that water was going untouched or was downed by only a sip or two.  

“We took a look around and yeah, we are wasting a lot of water. So that’s an easy fix,” Hiatt recounted. “If you want water, we’ll happily bring it to you, but it just won’t be by default.”  

The Utah Restaurant Association estimated restaurants serve 2,000,000 meals around the state daily. If an eight-ounce glass of water came with each of those meals automatically, that is 125,000 gallons of water, each day. And that does not even include the water needed to clean a full or half-full glass of water for its next use, or non-use.   

“So, it saves time, saves glassware, saves room on the table so that you can have room for your food. You have room for your phone because everybody has their phone out,” laughed Hiatt.  

The KSL Investigators called up more than 100 sit-down restaurants all around Utah and asked: “Do you serve customers water, even if they don’t order it?” We found nearly two out of three (63.6%) served water by default. 

 Hiatt admitted Tsunami Restaurant’s water-on-request policy met some resistance at first.  

“Even my parents texted me one day that, ‘We haven’t even gotten our water yet,’” Hiatt explained. “I said, ‘Did you ask for it?’”  

That was a couple of years back, and servers at Tsunami locations have not seen much backlash since, she said. If the drought should magically vanish tomorrow, they are sticking to their water guns on their water-upon-request policy.  

“Utah’s been in droughts and not in droughts, but we’re always in a desert,” Hiatt said. “So, water conservation just makes sense. We’ve got to protect where our supply is coming from.”  

In past droughts, the Division of Water Resources has requested the Utah Restaurant Association ask its members to serve water by request only. The association told the KSL Investigators they were up for it again.  

If you have an idea for an investigation of a small way we can save water, let us know about it. Call (385) 707-6153 or email matt@ksl.com

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

KSL Investigates

...
Matt Gephardt & Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

What are the rules for airline travel credits?

After canceling a beach vacation to Hawaii, a Utah woman believes she has $1,400 in flight credits. Ongoing flight cancellations have plagued the summer travel season, and a lot of travelers are being made whole with flight credits rather than refunds.
22 hours ago
FILE PHOTO - Shown are a smartphone and computer....
Matt Gephardt

Can a company pull the rebate runaround?

When a West Valley City woman took up Verizon on a rebate offer to upgrade but could not get the rebate, she contacted the KSL Investigators for help.
7 days ago
FILE PHOTO...
Daniella Rivera

KSL Investigates: How is Utah’s new self-defense law impacting justice?

Is a new Utah self-defense law improving our justice system or leading to unintended consequences? The KSL Investigators analyzed a full year of cases.
8 days ago
...
Matt Gephardt & Sloan Schrage

Utah home sellers drop asking prices as market slows from a frenzied pace

For years, Utah has been one of the nation's hottest real estate markets, but now it appears to be cooling as sellers are slashing prices.
8 days ago
FILE (Getty Images)...
Matt Gephardt & Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

Gephardt Busts Inflation: How you can save money by switching from one of the big three wireless carriers to an MVNO

We have all heard of the big guys of wireless networks - Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile. But many smaller carriers use the same infrastructure as the big three and for you that means you can get the service you need for much less by switching to one of the other guys.
11 days ago
FILE...
Matt Gephardt

Utah regulators take action against store they say failed to deliver furniture or refunds dozens of times

Imagine paying a deposit for expensive furniture only to have the company vanish before you get your stuff. It happened to several Utahns and now, the store has been cited by the State of Utah.
12 days ago

Sponsored Articles

tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
cyber security through multi factor authentication setup...
Les Olson IT

How multi factor authentication setup helps companies stay safe

Multi factor authentication (MFA) setup is an important security measure that every company should implement for their workers. It’s also wise to install it for your personal and home accounts.
...
Lighting Design

Check out these stunning lamps with stained glass shades

Lamps with stained glass shades are statement pieces that are more than simply aesthetic. They also meet a functional requirement: to light up a room.
Address Bar of internet browser shows internet access...
AARP Utah

Utah voters 50+ support increased access to Internet

The AARP surveyed Utah voters aged 50 plus about internet access and if they support the expansion of broadband, especially in rural areas currently lacking it.
Every Drop Counts: Utah Restaurant Chain Cuts Back The Automatic Water Pour