Southern California restaurant patrons should not think that they are getting bad service if they don't automatically get water with their meals.
About 3,500 restaurants in the area are joining the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California in a water-conservation program. Instead of a glass of water, diners will find a small sign on their tables informing them that, "Water is life. Please use it wisely."
If diners want a glass of water with their meal, all they have to do is ask, said Stan Kyker, executive vice president of the California Restaurant Assn.
"It's not really a sign of poor service not to bring water," Kyker said. "We're hoping to prevent another (water) shortage."
A similar program was promoted in 1976 when water shortages threatened to parch the state, Kyker said.
Although the program helped ease the state's water woes, Kyker said most restaurants have returned to the practice of automatically offering patrons water with their meals.
Carl Boronkay, general manager of the water district, said the goal of the new program is to help avoid a potential water shortage next year.
"An unserved 12-ounce glass of water could save as much as one gallon," he said. "Factored over the number of restaurants and diners in Southern California, that can be a significant amount of conserved water."
For each glass of water served, whether consumed or not, it takes three to four times as much water to wash the glass the water came in, Boronkay said.
The voluntary water-on-request program is expected to begin next week and will run indefinitely.
Kyker said about 175,000 signs will be distributed to restaurants in Los Angeles and Orange counties this week.