New Balboa Park Upgrades Will Save Millions of Gallons of Water Annually

July 24, 2017

Balboa Park is taking water-use efficiency to a new level with a collaboration between the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, the San Diego County Water Authority and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) that will reduce water use by approximately 2.4 million gallons a year while trimming energy consumption at the same time.

The partners funded the installation of 365 high-efficiency water fixtures such as toilets, urinals and flow-control devices on faucets. The project involved upgrades to restrooms and kitchens in nine historic Park buildings that are home to 13 cultural organizations.

The retrofits, completed last week, will generate water savings equivalent to 3.6 Olympic-sized swimming pools each year, or roughly the amount used annually by 15 typical Southern California families of four. Most of the water savings will be achieved in restrooms, where water use will be cut by more than half. Energy savings will result from avoiding the need to collect, transport and treat the conserved water.

New signage at Park buildings promotes water-use efficiency to the 14 million Park visitors annually at one of the world’s top tourist destinations. Balboa Park completed similar projects in 2014 and 2015 as it certified 10 Park buildings under the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program.

“We are committed to making the Park a showcase for resource efficiency, just as it is for culture, history and the arts,” said Jessica Travis, director of sustainability and community relations at the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership. “We aim to inspire millions of Park visitors from across the region and around the world to make changes that save both water and energy.”

The collaboration builds on a long-running partnership between the Water Authority and SDG&E to invest in projects and programs that provide dual water and energy savings. In addition, SDG&E has been working with the Park for the past decade to advance energy management.

“As part of our efforts to become the cleanest, safest, and most reliable energy company in America, we are proud to work with Balboa Park institutions to demonstrate how to conserve water and energy at the same time,” said Michael Schneider, SDG&E’s vice president of operations support and chief environmental officer. “What Balboa Park has accomplished can be readily replicated at homes and businesses, so we encourage everyone to check out the resources available on to see how they can save energy and money.”

SDG&E provides an online one-stop-shop for energy-efficient appliances and rebates. Through, SDG&E customers can compare prices, estimate energy savings, review product features and find popularity ratings across thousands of home appliances and electronics. Marketplace also offers a streamlined rebate application process that makes it easy to submit a rebate request.

“This effort underscores the strong ethic in San Diego County to make the most of our limited natural resources regardless of the weather,” said Mark Muir, chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “It’s rewarding to see leading institutions such as Balboa Park embrace and promote the next generation of water savings.”

Through its Live WaterSmart campaign, the Water Authority offers residents and businesses numerous classes, rebates and other resources to make positive and permanent lifestyle changes that promote water-use efficiency. Learn more at

The Balboa Park Cultural Partnership managed the project, which totaled approximately $166,000. The Water Authority contributed $50,000 to pay for signage and fixtures. Additional fixtures were funded by $16,500 in rebates from the SoCal WaterSmart program run by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. SDG&E funded project administration and the labor to install the fixtures.

  • The San Diego County Water Authority sustains a $268 billion regional economy and the quality of life for 3.3 million residents through a multi-decade water supply diversification plan, major infrastructure investments and forward-thinking policies that promote fiscal and environmental responsibility. A public agency created in 1944, the Water Authority delivers wholesale water supplies to 23 retail water providers, including cities, special districts and a military base.

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