UNLV professor targets ‘wasteful’ dipper wells

Before you even take that first sip of latte or bite of hand-scooped ice cream, you may have unwittingly participated in a form of water waste as common as your corner coffee shop.

Each year, food establishments across the valley purposely pour more than 100 million gallons of drinking water down the drain in the interest of health and expedience, according to a UNLV professor and a student who want to shut the tap on the practice.

The culprit is a kitchen convenience known as a dipper well, which uses a continuous stream of cold water to rinse ice cream scoops and other utensils.

Martin Dean Dupalo, an adjunct professor of political science at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and Nathan Sipe, one of his students, spent about three months trying to determine how many dipper wells there are in the valley and how much water they use.

After several hundred hours of research, none of it paid, they settled on three numbers: 2,453 dipper wells at 1,134 food establishments sending 106.4 million gallons of drinking water a year down the drain.

That’s enough water to supply 653 average homes.

And Dupalo considers that "a bare minimum." It’s a conservative figure they settled on because it could be defended by their research, he said.

Dipper wells are especially common at ice cream shops and specialty coffee houses. Starbucks was blasted in the British media last year for its use of the small, perpetual-flow sinks, but the coffee chain is hardly alone.

"I think the big thing that surprised me was how many businesses used these," Sipe said.

In the course of their research, he and Dupalo found at least one restaurant with five dipper wells running at once, including a well used exclusively for potato slicers.

They also came across several coffee kiosks inside grocery stores and elsewhere that left their dipper wells running all the time, even when the businesses were closed.

Dupalo said the wells make no sense, especially in a place where residents are encouraged to quickly repair slow drips and turn off the tap while they brush their teeth.

"We’re in the desert, and we’re in a multiyear drought," he said.

Dupalo and Sipe finished their study in April and have been trying to get it on the agenda for the Southern Nevada Health District ever since.

After the health district, they plan to present their findings to the Southern Nevada Water Authority and the Clark County Commission.

Ultimately, Dupalo would like to see dipper wells banned from new businesses and phased out of old ones.

Paul Klouse is an environmental health supervisor for the health district. He couldn’t speak to likelihood of a ban on dipper wells, but he said the argument against them makes "absolute sense from a water conservation perspective."

"The regulations do not require dipper wells," Klouse said. "There are lots of alternatives to running them."

Water authority Conservation Manager Doug Bennett hasn’t seen Dupalo and Sipe’s findings, but he knows plenty about dipper wells already.

"Well, they are horribly wasteful," he said.

They are also inefficient. Because a dipper well runs all the time, Bennett said, "it’s going to use that water whether you serve four scoops of ice cream or you serve 4,000 scoops of ice cream in a day."

Starbucks has gotten the message.

Earlier this year, the company began implementing alternatives to dipper wells, including more traditional rinse sinks and the use of a separate utensil for each drink that is made.

Starbucks hopes to be able to shut off the dipper wells at all of its locations in the United States by September. After that, the ubiquitous coffee chain plans to start converting its international shops.

Starbucks could qualify for a little help from the water authority as it makes the switch from dipper wells in Southern Nevada, Bennett said.

Through its WET program, short for Water Efficient Technologies, the authority offers rebates to businesses that replace older, less efficient water systems and cut their water use by at least 500,000 gallons a year.

Bennett said a chain of restaurants or coffee shops could easily save that much merely by replacing the dipper wells at its valley locations.

A small, family-owned coffee shop or ice cream parlor also might be able to earn a rebate by getting rid of its dipper wells and making other water efficiency improvements, he said.

Dupalo hopes businesses will decide to make the change on their own, but a complete, valleywide conversion will never happen without a firm push from regulators.

As it stands now, he said, dipper wells are "unregulated, unmonitored and continuous flow," words that should never be used when it comes to managing water in North America’s driest desert.

Contact reporter Henry Brean at hbrean @reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0350.

Clark County Schools announce random searches
Clark County School District middle and high school students will be subject to random searches for weapons under a new initiative to combat the wave of guns found on campus. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss React to Dennis Hof's Death
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss speak about their friend and prominent brothel owner Dennis Hof's death at Dennis Hof's Love Ranch. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof has died
Nevada brothel owner and Republican candidate for Nevada State Assembly District 36, Dennis Hof has died. He was 72. Nye County Sherriff's office confirmed. Hof owned Love Ranch brothel, located in Crystal, Nevada.
Las Vegas police investigate suspicious package at shopping center
Las Vegas police evacuated a southeast valley shopping center at Flamingo and Sandhill roads early Tuesday morning while they investigated reports of a suspicious package. (Max Michor/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Las Vegas Metro hosts the K-9 Trials
The Las Vegas Metro K-9 Trials returns to the Orleans Arena to benefit the Friends For Las Vegas Police K-9 group.
Kingman residents love their little town
Residents of Kingman, Ariz. talk about how they ended up living in the Route 66 town, and what they love about their quiet community. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Service at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery
Twelve unclaimed veterans are honored at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City in Oct. 9, 2018. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas house prices reach highest level in 11 years
Las Vegas house prices are rising But so is the amount of available homes on the market Still, properties priced below $300,000 are selling fast And September was the first time since June 2007 that the median house price reached the $300,000 mark Las Vegas home prices have been rising at one of the fastest rates in the country over the past year Recent data show the market is now less affordable than the national average
National Night Out
About 100 Summerlin residents gathered at Park Centre Dr. in Summerlin on Tuesday for National Night Out. Lt. Joshua Bitsko with Las Vegas Metro, played with 3-year-old David who was dressed as a police officer. Face painting, fire truck tours and more kept kids busy as parents roamed behind them. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rural homeless issue comes to a head in Pahrump
On Sept. 12, Pahrump sheriff deputies told residents of a homeless encampment on private property that they had 15 minutes to vacate and grab their belongings. That decision might face some legal consequences. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remembrance blood drive on October 1
A blood drive was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center on the one year anniversary of the Oct. 1 shooting. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remembrance Lights memorial unveiled at St. Rose hospital
A dedication ceremony was held at St. Rose to unveil a memorial and to read the names of those who died on October 1, a year ago. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1October Blood Drive Remembrance Wall
(Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1October Blood Drive
Vitalent hosts a blood drive at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Monday, Oct. 1, 2018, the first anniversary of the Las Vegas shootings. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1October sunrise remembrance ceremony in Las Vegas
Myanda Smith, sister of Las Vegas shooting victim Neysa Tonks, speaks at the sunrise remembrance ceremony at the Clark County Government Center in downtown Las Vegas, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018. (Chitose Suzuki/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
‪Gov. Brian Sandoval speaks to crowd at Oct. 1 sunrise remembrance ceremony ‬
‪Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval speaks to the crowd at the Oct. 1 sunrise remembrance ceremony ‬at the Clark County Government Center in downtown Las Vegas, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Father of Route 91 Harvest festival shooting victim talks about college scholarship in his daughter's memory
Chris Davis, father of a Route 91 Harvest festival shooting victim, Neysa Tonks, talks about a college scholarship in his daughter's memory to assist the children of those who died in the shooting. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Oct. 1 survivor Malinda Baldridge talks about life after the shooting
Malinda Baldridge of Reno attended the Route 91 Harvest festival with her daughter, Breanna, 17, and was shot twice in the leg when the gunman fired on the crowd.
Route 91 survivor talks about lack of progress in gun legislation
Heather Gooze, a Route 91 survivor, talks about lack of progress in gun legislation since the Oct 1. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas/Review-Journal) @reviewjournal
Review held in death of man after encounter with Las Vegas police
The mother of Tashii Brown, who died after an encounter with Las Vegas police on the Strip, not satisfied after public review of evidence. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County Museum opening "How We Mourned: Selected Artifacts from the October 1 Memorials"
The Clark County Museum is opening an exhibit "How We Mourned: Selected Artifacts from the October 1 Memorials" of items left to honor the victims killed in the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Memorial service for former RJ lawyer Mark Hinueber
Mark Hinueber, the Review-Journal's former lawyer and defender of the First Amendment, died in Las Vegas on Aug. 23. Hinueber, who was 66, worked at the RJ and other newspapers for 42 years. On Saturday, his friends and family gathered for a memorial service.
Army veteran honored in Henderson event
Army Sgt. Adam Poppenhouse was honored by fellow veterans in an event hosted by a One Hero at a Time at the Henderson Events Center.
Michelle Obama and Keegan-Michael Key urge Nevadans to vote
Former first lady Michelle Obama and comedian Keegan-Michael Key urged Nevadans to vote at Chaparral High School in Las Vegas Sunday, Sep. 23, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
1 dead, 1 wounded in North Las Vegas standoff
A woman was hospitalized with serious injuries on Thursday morning after being shot inside a North Las Vegas house. Police responded about 11 p.m. to a shooting at a home on the 5600 block of Tropic Breeze Street, near Ann Road and Bruce Street. The wounded woman, police believe, was shot by a man, who later barricaded himself inside the house. SWAT was called to assist, and when officers entered the house, they discovered the man dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Las Vegas Teen Makes Clothing Resale His Side Hustle
Las Vegas resident Reanu Elises, 18, started buying and selling streetwear online when he was a high school junior. Like many other young adults, the world of online resale applications like Depop and Mercari have made selling clothing online for a profit easy. Now, Elises spends his free time at thrift shops looking for rare and vintage clothing he can list on his on his shop. Now in his freshman year at UNLV as a business marketing major, Elises hopes to open a shop of his own one day and start his own clothing brand. He estimates that he's made about $1000 from just thrifted finds in the past year, which he'll use to buy more thrift clothing and help pay for expenses in college. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Fruition Vineyards Encourages Young Entrepreneurs to "Buy, Flip, Dream"
Once a month, young adults gather at Fruition Vineyards on South Maryland Parkway near UNLV to dig through a stack of rare, vintage and designer clothing that's marked down well below it's resale value. Shop founder Valerie Julian began the vent, dubbed "Fruition Vineyards" in August after running her streetwear shop since 2005. The event gives young entrepreneurs the opportunity to "buy, flip, dream" according to Jean. Meaning that they're encouraged to buy the clothing for sale and find a way to resell it for a profit, then reinvest that into whatever dream they pursue: college, a hobby or their own resale business. Shoppers lined up starting an hour before noon on the last Saturday in April for the opportunity and spoke about what they hoped to do with their finds and profits. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Local man goes under cover searching for answers to homelessness
Licensed mental health therapist Sheldon Jacobs spent 48 hours under cover posing as a homeless man in an attempt to gain perspective on the complex issue.
Social Work UNLV Lecturer's Calling
Ivet Aldaba-Valera was the first person in her family to graduate from both high school and college. The 33-year-old UNLV lecturer is now pursuing her Ph. D in public policy at the school and has used her degree in social work to engage with the young Latino and Latina community of Las Vegas. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
News Headlines
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like