Ecolab’s City of Industry, California Plant Certified as Water Stewardship Leader

Ecolab City of Industry, California Plant Certified as Water Stewardship Leader

Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) Case Study
Published December 2016 | Updated October 3, 2023


Ecolab’s manufacturing facility located in City of Industry (COI), California, is a blend plant that primarily produces industrial cleaning and sanitizing chemicals. Located in Southern California, in the San Gabriel sub-basin, the COI plant relies on water from the Rowland Water District which sources water from northern California and the Colorado River.

Ecolab is committed to a holistic approach to water management across its manufacturing facilities and implemented the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) International Water Standard at its COI plant in 2016 and version 2.0 in 2020. The Facility has continued to stay up to date on AWS requirements to uphold the core certification.


The team at Ecolab’s COI plant assessed the facility for opportunities to reduce water use across operations to meet the team’s objective to reduce potable water use per ton of product by 13% by 2022 from a 2018 baseline. Water reduction opportunities identified included optimization of washout processes and matrices, implementation of behavioral changes through findings of washout studies, leak detection and repair and launch of a formal sustainability sector team to identify and prioritize environmental projects.

Feasibility studies were performed to chart the water reduction impact, capital and operating cost of solutions. Ecolab’s Water Risk Monetizer was also utilized to understand the water risk at the plant. Implementation of water reduction projects was prioritized throughout the plant to achieve savings. Of the five water outcomes of the AWS Standard, the COI facility concentrated on sustainable water balance and good water quality status, and will be ramping up focus on safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) practices.

water savings infographic

With the aim to improve overall health of local watersheds, and as part of Ecolab’s 2030 Impact Goals, we have prioritized AWS certification in high-risk watersheds in which we operate.

AWS Certification Plant Imagery

An average annualized water reduction of 850,000 gallons (3,200 m3), an equivalent to $17,000 USD in risk-adjusted cost savings.


The following projects help improve the facility’s water balance and have been completed to reduce overall water use:

  • Optimization of washout processes, scheduling and behavior resulting in approximately 4.3 million gallons (16,194 m3) of water saved every year. Completed in 2021.
  • Held a Kaizen event focused on leak detection and repairs which resulted in 6,500 gallons (25 m3) of annual water savings. Completed in 2021.
  • Launched a sustainability sector team (SHE Pillar) focused on creating sustainability key performance indicators (KPIs) and identification and prioritization of sustainability projects. This team is aligned with the Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) methodology and is dedicated to sustainability progress.
  • Bottle Washer upgrade saving 42,000 gallons of water annually completed in 2023.

The following projects are ongoing:

  • RO reuse design project to save 1.2 M gallons
  • Installation of Solar Panels to offset 87% of our electricity consumption.
  • Air leak reduction project projected to save $64,000 in electricity costs.

Ecolab's Carson, CA, Plant Location


  • Positive Water Impact | Average annualized water reduction of 850,000 million gallons (~3,200 m3) resulting in a 9% reduction of water use per ton of product realized in 2022 from a 2018 baseline.
  • Economic Results | $17,000 USD average annualized risk-adjusted cost savings. 
Graph showing water withdrawal  and water intensity decreasing from 2018 to 2022

Water Governance

At the plant, the Safety, Health and Environmental (SHE) department is responsible for wastewater compliance, with the SHE manager ultimately responsible and plant manager accountable. The corporate environmental lead is available to consult on regulatory updates and wastewater compliance. Additionally, the SHE manager is ultimately responsible for pH monitoring. The site’s production supervisors are responsible for wastewater discharge and PH monitoring.

At a corporate level, the Sustainability Team is guided by the Sustainability Executive Advisory Team, which is made up of the company’s most senior business and divisional leaders. In addition, Ecolab’s Water Stewardship position and Global SHE position are publicly available and serve as commitments to and guidance on water-related issues and compliance. Site water-related compliance information is available upon request.

In 2020, Ecolab announced its membership in the Water Resilience Coalition, an industry-driven initiative of the United Nations Global Compact’s CEO Water Mandate. The Coalition aims to elevate global water stress to the top of the corporate agenda and preserve the world’s freshwater resources through collective action in water-stressed basins and by making ambitious, quantifiable commitments.

Water Stewardship Journey

In addition to internal operational improvements, Ecolab’s COI plant’s water stewardship activities are ongoing. Shared challenges between the plant and relevant stakeholders include water scarcity due to reduced snowpack from existing water sources, aging water infrastructure, urban water runoff, vulnerability to earthquakes and flood events and loss of wetlands and species. To address these shared issues, Ecolab collaborates with other water users in the basin, one of which is an Ecolab AWS-certified plant in Carson, California.

The COI facility remains engaged with the water utility, Rowland Water District, to maintain alignment on catchment water goals. Ecolab’s COI plant used Context-Based Water Targeting (CBWT) to evaluate water stewardship outcomes. With the help of Pacific Institute acting as the co-secretariat of the CEO Water Mandate, Ecolab worked to understand context-based water targets that aligned with key shared water challenges in the Rowland Water District. In the process of evaluating key context-based considerations for the COI plant, Ecolab was able to take a more thoughtful approach to its water stewardship activities. This analysis helped Ecolab determine how to use resources most effectively to make the greatest impact on the highest priority challenges at the plant. In November 2020, COI shared plant progress with the Rowland Water District and discussed opportunities for continued collaboration to address shared water challenges in the Upper San Gabriel basin.

Ecolab is involved in the California Water Action Collaborative (CWAC) and is also part of the South Coast working group (within CWAC). The Ecolab team participates in monthly meetings to keep pace on shared water challenges and efforts in California. Ecolab is actively seeking collective action projects in the region that align with corporate replenishment goals.

Ecolab is a member of a public policy water resources group in Washington D.C. that advocates for water resource policy with a heavy focus in California. In 2023, Ecolab continued to engage with and support the Alliance for Water Stewardship’s global work by sharing the company’s water stewardship strategy through multiple speaking engagements, AWS webinars and encouraging other large multinational corporations to join AWS.


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