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where's my water?

I just found out that apparently it is against the law for a server in California to bring you a glass of water without your asking. I find this a little bizzar. I know that it is a way to conserve water, but until last night thought it was a sign of bad service

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  1. Who told you that? There is no such California state law.

    "Don't believe half of what you see, and none of what you hear" - Lou Reed

    3 Replies
    1. re: alanbarnes

      My girlfriend who has been a server at a few of the Patina restaurants in LA, some restaurants in Monterey, as well as Chantrell in NYC

      1. re: eberhard49

        Looking at the PUC regulations below, it looks like a water utility MAY implement mandatory rationing (including the restriction you mentioned) when there's a water shortage. That's a lot different than a state law imposing those restrictions.

        1. re: alanbarnes

          I don't think anyone said there is a California state law; and I believe there is no such requirement in the state statutes nor codes.
          The PUC document I linked to are not regulations. It's a guidance document. I think various local water authorities (I'll just call them that generally, since in Calif, our water is governed by a tangled myriad of entities) have adopted that water conservation measure about not serving tap water unless requested. As such, the area over which the water authority has jurisdiction must abide by that water authority's decision.

    2. I don't know about California but I know it's the rule in Santa Fe where drought is a perennial problem. I've seen several menus in various parts of the country that say that water is served upon request.

      1. I would like a cite or reference please.

        I have lived in CA for a long time, in the 70s many restaurants were asked by their water districts/local governments to stop serving water unless it is requested due a drought.

        1. Santa Monica and many other places have put into effect conservation rules/laws, whatever, we live in a dessert and except for El Nino 2 or 3 winters ago, we are in a drought. We need to conserve, if you want water ask, I have friends that if a server asks they say bring it for everybody and half the waters go untouched. The restaurant wastes water, they waste labor, they waste soap and run the risk of breakage and the use their diswashing machines more. Who pays for this, we do in higher prices. My grandfather installed kitchens for many chains in the 50's 60's and 70's and he would always point out stuff like this to me, now I get it. Please conserve and if they do not bring you water, just ask and do not think of it as a sign of bad service.

          1. If it is true. I don't see it as bad service. Do you really drink the water they brought? I know more than half of the time I don't. If you want one, ask for it. We have water shortage!

            1. fascinating... i've made the habit of ONLY drinking tap water at restaurants- no matter how nice it is (allergic to alcohol) or ghetto (even fast food).

              2 Replies
              1. re: greengelato

                for the most part so do i.
                only one place served me water that tasted so awful that i resorted to buying bottled water, and that was was vitos.
                excellent pizza, vile tap water.

                1. re: westsidegal

                  That water is the secret to the crust, don't tell anyone. They had a guy come in to the tune off $100,000 to replicate through filters and reverse inverse osmosis with flouride, NY City water, that is the secret to the crust!

              2. There's a guidance document issued by the Calif. Public Utilities Commission, Water Division, in July 2004. I don't claim to understand the ins and outs of the CA PUC, and only glanced through this, so read at your leisure or curiosity.

                I think various local water districts have adopted such water conservation measures as it relates to restaurants.

                1 Reply
                1. re: slacker

                  A. Prohibit nonessential and unauthorized water use, including:


                  viii. service of water by any restaurant except upon the request of a patron; and

                2. This makes perfect sense to me. I never drink water with dinner, usually sticking to wine. Every time a glass of water is poured for me it just sits there until I leave and is then discarded. Considering I eat out at least 4 times a week, that's an awful lot of wasted water for me alone.

                  1. another interesting thing about water conservation is that bottled water is never brought up or mentioned...you are never told to drink less bottled water. I wonder how much the bottled water industry (through bottle manufacturing, shipping, etc) contributes to the polluting of water

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: eberhard49

                      There's a restaurant movement to not serve bottled water. The manufacturing process to make bottled water, consumes a lot of energy, which of course is not good for the environment, not to mention the energy it takes to import water from other countries.
                      And then recycling--hopefully--those plastic containers also requires energy.

                      1. re: slacker

                        the restaurants make a killing off of the bottled water, though

                        1. re: eberhard49

                          Yep, and that's one of the reasons I never get bottled water in a restaurant, just a basic annoyance factor--I don't feel like getting raked for water in a bottle.

                          But some restaurant owners have higher priorities. http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wire...

                      2. re: eberhard49

                        Didn't San Francisco just pass a law against bottled water in government buildings?

                        1. re: mojoeater

                          No, just nolonger providing it for city staff. You can certainly bring it from home or indulge in some of the states finest tap water.

                      3. It's not an always thing but during times of drought it gets trotted out. I am in the habit of asking for water in a restaurant if I want it -- comes from the last time we had a drought. It makes sense -- if you want it, ask for it, if you don't, it saves the water from the glass and also from the washing.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Amuse Bouches

                          that seems like a good rule to follow...the only reason I brought the topic up is that until yesterday, thought that not getting a glass of water just after being seated was a sign of bad service

                          1. re: eberhard49

                            Oh, I see what you're saying about the bad service. I don't mind as long as they take my drink order quickly and show up with it in a timely manner... although I normally ask for water anyway. What city does your GF work in, out of curiousity?

                          2. re: Amuse Bouches

                            I remember reading signs on the table that explained that one glass of water for us is equivalent to at least three glasses of water because of the washing.

                          3. i have always been amused by how we humans think that the customs local to us are in use everywhere that we go. in most of europe, for instance, you will not be served water unless you request it. you will then be asked as to whether or not you want it with or without "gas" (carbonation). you will probably not be served ice unless you request it, and there will usually be a charge for it.

                            this water on the table thing is something that developed here to demonstrate "good service". i guess that the rue worked. the reality is that much of the water simply sits and gets tossed - very wasteful. personally, i do not mind asking for water. the sign of service is determined by how quickly i get it. (no ice, please.)

                            1. The big deal is the water used in washing, not the water in the glass. If there's a state law prohibiting bringing a glass of water to the patron unasked a whole lot of places are in violation.