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Local Bakery Makes Every Drop Count by Increasing Water Efficiency

By Lindsay Wochnick 0 Comments

For many Portland area businesses, using water efficiently makes great business sense. With the rising costs of operations for some companies, conserving water is one way to reduce costs without compromising their products or services. 

In 2012, the Portland Water Bureau’s Water Efficiency Team worked with employees from the Helen Bernhard Bakery in NE Portland to identify a number of opportunities to optimize water use and institute conservation measures. As a result, the bakery has reaped both financial and environmental benefits, demonstrating that water conservation can improve the bottom-line. 

During the initial site survey, approximately 133,000 gallons per year in various facility and equipment leaks were discovered.  Leaks to a pre-rinse sprayer and toilets were repaired immediately. 

The Water Bureau Team also found that the majority of the bakery’s water consumption — more than 500,000 gallons per year — was being consumed to operate two water-cooled condensers serving the refrigeration and freezing units. The water-cooled condenser that served a walk-in refrigeration unit was replaced with an air-cooled model.  While the cost to replace this unit was expensive for the small business, it was made more cost-effective with the help of a $5,000 water efficiency incentive from the Portland Water Bureau. 

The investments that Helen Bernard Bakery made resulted in significant savings, estimated to be 486,000 fewer gallons annually — a cost savings of $12,500 a year.

Remember, water conservation—using water efficiently and avoiding waste—is a critical part of ensuring sustainable water supplies now and for future generations. 

Water Conservation Assessments
No-cost water conservation assessments are available to commercial, industrial, multi-family and institutional properties that are PWB customers. Once problem areas are located, the Water Efficiency Team will help businesses implement efficiency improvements by offering technical support and applicable rebates.  If your business would like a water conservation assessment, contact the Water Efficiency Program at (503) 823-4527, or email

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