Pay it Forward

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The average American uses 123 gallons of water per person per day for things like showers, washing clothes and toilets.  When someone tells me to change a nozzle on my sprinkler to save water, it’s hard to comprehend this little gesture makes a difference. 4500 babies die everyday as a result of no water or unclean water.  Almost a billion people on the planet don’t have access to clean drinking water. That’s 1 in 8 of us. Diseases from unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. Because water is regional, it doesn’t matter how much water I save in my hometown of La Jolla, California.  It won’t save those people in other countries who have to walk miles to gather all the water they consume. Or maybe it could.
I thought I was having a bad day the other day when my espresso maker went on the fritz and I had to go without my morning latte.  Then I read Alan’s blog “Water is Free” and I thought about how fortunate we are to have such easy access to water. Imagine having to gather all the water we use on a daily basis, a few gallons at a time, by walking to the local stream and carrying it back home.

I’ve actually thought about this a lot and it’s why I started working with the charitable organization charity: water. charity: water is a non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations. It was founded five years ago by former NYC nightclub promoter, Scott Harrison. After ten years selling a decadent lifestyle to the city’s top influencers, Scott was “spiritually bankrupt” and decided to dedicate the rest of his life to service. He got a job as a photojournalist off the coast of Liberia on a hospital ship. While working there, he came face to face with the reality of the water crisis—meeting individuals who were suffering from waterborne diseases that were preventable. He found his life’s mission.

The goal at charity: water is to solve the world’s water crisis in our lifetime. In five short years they’ve spearheaded 4,000 water projects, providing 2 million people with access to clean, safe water.   They are well on their way. When charity: water was founded, they made a dedication to give 100% of all public donations directly to water projects, funding operating costs through corporate sponsors and private donors. They even go so far as to pay back credit card fees for online transactions so that 100% of your money goes straight to those in need.

Over the summer I met with Sarah Cohen at charity: water and we developed the Pay it Forward Program.  I may not be able to ship the water I save at home to the places that need it most, but I can take some of the money I’m saving as a result of using less irrigation water and donate it to an excellent charity like charity: water.  It’s really what I call found money.  We are saving customers literally thousands of dollars every year as a result of smart irrigation practices.

Here is a challenge: Track the savings and donate a percentage to charity: water. Pay it forward and solve the problem of getting the water to where it is needed most.

I hope World War III never happens, but if it does, I think it’s going to be fought over water.  I have a strong desire to change the way we have been managing irrigation water. Call this a water revolution or call it out of the box thinking. I like to think of it as our professional responsibility to the industry to lead the change. It’s about wanting to do what is right for the future. It’s about saving lives. I hope you will accept the challenge and decide to do something good with your savings.

Richard Restuccia

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Richard Restuccia

Richard Restuccia is a water management evangelist. He believes passionately in water efficiency and sees the financial and social benefits far too often to keep a secret. As the Director for Water Management Solutions at ValleyCrest, Richard is our spokesperson at industry events and on the Hill to provide direction and insight on landscape water management best practices. Richard puts his words into action through service on various boards and committees including the Government and Regulatory Affairs Committee for the Irrigation Association, the San Diego Water Conservation Action Committee and was a founding member of the Central Control Users’ Group in the Central Valley of California.



  1. Thursday, 6:43 Alan Harris

    Great article Richard. I can tell the inspiration came straight from your heart. Yesterday, as a result of #landscapechat on Twitter with Charity: Water, I donated about 3 months of what my average monthly water bill to Charity: Water. I am inspired by their commitment of 100% of donations being used for real projects.

  2. Thursday, 3:20 Lauren Hanson

    Truly inspiring post Richard. What a great reason to measure your savings – so you can pass them on to those who need it.

  3. Thursday, 5:39 Richard Restuccia

    Thanks for the comments and thanks for the donations. The response today to this blog post has been tremendous. A great reminder of what we can do when we pull together to achieve a goal.

  4. Friday, 8:15 John Eggleston

    Richard, once again someone points out the fact that we humans use water in large quantities every day, but what most people continue to overlook is the fact that, unlike fossil fuels, the water we use in our daily activities is returned to the cycle. We don’t have a water quantity problem, we have water quality and location problems. Our industry can actually assist in mitigating that fact. For many years irrigation systems have been a part of some sewage treatment programs, facilitating the return of gray water to the hydrologic cycle. Recently, I have been approached by companies that are working to get dripperline products adapted for use in septic and drainfield applications to put the water into the root zone of the lawn and landscape.
    As a society, we should be more focused on recycling the water we use instead of single mindedly pursuing less consumption. We need to advocate for infrastructure improvements, educational efforts to promote the use of irrigated greenspaces as facilitators of ecological improvement, better storage and treatment facilities, and the expansion of non-potable water distribution systems.
    All that water going through showers, clothes washers, and toilets is still here. We just need to find more efficient ways to make it usable again. Irrigated landscapes can be one of those ways.

  5. Friday, 8:18 Alan Harris

    @ John I agree – we have plenty of water or at least we have all the water we will ever have. However at some point in time as our population continues to increase our water withdrawals will exceed nature’s ability to recycle. The biggest concerns are the massive withdrawals from aquifers. Unlike a lake or reservoir which can be seen and is shown on the news when the levels drop to critical levels, aquifer levels can only be written about. This quiet crisis is very concerning even in parts of the country we consider to be water wealthy. I also agree irrigation can help mitigate and delay the inevitable water, population, energy, and agriculture nexus.

  6. Friday, 2:00 John Eggleston

    I don’t disagree. Reduction is necessary in those areas where our societal push to live in arid locations has exceeded the resources available to maintain current lifestyles and/or habits – at least until infrastructure changes have been made to accomodate. There are other areas where supply is exceeding demand due to population shift. There just may be a reason mankind has traditionally settled next to water sources… If we choose to live in a desert, we either need to adapt our lifestyles to the climate or develop ways to compensate through infrastructure. The nonsense of national policy being driven by regional shortsightedness needs to stop.

  7. Monday, 12:16 Kelly Duke

    Jim Thebaut of the Chronicles Group, Inc, an non-profit confronting world water issues showed a short film in advance of the Rain Bird Intelligent Use of Water film festival last week. Congress is advancing legislature to fund similar water programs. Why, do you ask, in our current economic downturn is our government concerned about getting clean, safe water to third world countries? The answer has may parts: (1) for every dollar spent there is a return of as much as eight dollars in reduced health aid and reduced food aid needed as groups are able to avoid water-borne diseases and grow their own food. (2) security – when people feel that they have some level of control over their lives they are far less likely to be lured into acts of rebellion or terrorism.

    For the small cost of getting water and sanitation programs into rural and impoverished communities there is a bigger long-term pay back. As with everything it will require follow-up and maintenance and education but these too are inexpensive by comparison.

    Another great post Richard.

    K. F. Duke

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