All over North America, water is in the news. In the United States, 36 states presently face water shortages. The entire state of California is in a state of drought for the first time in 15 years, while the San Antonio area in Texas has been in a state of drought since the 1990's.

Water Highlights Highlights for this Section
  • Toyota saved over 93 million gallons of water in North America during fiscal year 2014 by practicing the three R's: reduce, reuse and recycle.
  • Team members at Toyota's assembly plant in Cambridge, Ontario, found a way to capture, clean and recycle over 12 million gallons of water used to rinse vehicles during the painting process.
  • Since opening in 2007, Toyota's Texas assembly plant has used about 1.9 billion gallons of recycled water instead of drawing fresh water from the Edwards Aquifer.
Watch how TMMK will soon be using power generated from landfill gassescarbon- Watch how Toyota’s Cambridge plant reduced the amount of water they use in the Lexus paint shop.

Even areas of western Canada — a nation with a relatively abundant supply of fresh water — are experiencing water shortages. Water scarcity in Mexico is by far the most severe in North America, where increasing demand is met with an increasingly limited supply.

Research by the 2030 Water Resources Group suggests that by 2030, global water demand will be 40 percent greater than today's reliable, accessible supply. That demand relies on the small fraction of water on the planet that's fresh water and actually available for people to use.

What can we do to prevent this unwelcome scenario? One fact is clear: If we want to have any hope of reversing the current course, we need all hands on deck. Elected officials, companies, communities and individuals must work together to protect and conserve the limited supply of fresh water we have — or we risk permanent damage to the health of our economy and the environment.

Across Toyota, team members and associates have all hands on deck. Our 360 degree approach to water stewardship (see Figure 22) is founded on two pillars: water conservation and watershed protection. Our efforts to conserve water encompass our entire value chain, from our own operations to those of our suppliers, dealers and communities. We supplement these conservation efforts with outreach activities that protect water bodies and the species that rely on them. This is Toyota's cycle of water stewardship, where everyone has a role in making sure our most precious resource is available for generations to come.

Figure 22


When it comes to using less water, Toyota's team members and associates have found creative ways to conserve water. We also engage in conservation initiatives with suppliers, dealers and our communities. There is only so much water for all of us to share, so we must work together to ensure there is enough to meet the needs of people, industry and nature.

During fiscal year 2014, we conducted an analysis of our North American locations and mapped them using Aqueduct™. This tool was developed by the World Resources Institute to help companies, investors, governments and communities better understand where and how water risks are emerging around the world. The centerpiece of Aqueduct is the Water Risk Atlas, which creates customizable global maps of water risk.

The Atlas combines 12 indicators in three categories (physical risk quantity, physical risk quality, and regulatory and reputational risk) to create an overall map of where and how water risks may be prevalent. The Atlas shows that a total of 19 of Toyota's North American locations, including three manufacturing plants — in Long Beach, California; San Antonio, Texas; and Tecate, Baja California — are located in areas of high overall water risk. Currently, we do not have any sites in areas of extremely high risk.

The Water Risk Atlas is helping us further focus water conservation efforts on sites in water-stressed regions, and on sites with concerns about future water availability. The Aqueduct tool is also helping us incorporate all water risk factors into our analysis, which will enable us to develop tailored strategies for certain sites and/or regions within North America.

Figure 23

Water Target: Reduce water withdrawals 6% per vehicle by FY2016

For the first time, we set a consolidated water target that covers more than 85 North American facilities, including assembly and unit plants, parts and vehicle distribution centers, R&D centers, and offices. Our new target is to reduce water withdrawals by 6 percent per vehicle produced by fiscal year 2016, from a baseline of fiscal year 2010.

Our metric counts water withdrawals, such as from a public utility or groundwater well. We are developing an internal water inventory management plan — similar to a greenhouse gas inventory management plan — to document accounting practices related to our water metric and target.

In fiscal year 2014, we achieved a 1 percent reduction, and expect further reductions over the next two years.

Figure 24

Operations: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

To conserve water, we look for ways to reduce (use less), reuse (use what we have already used again, without further processing), and recycle (use what we have already used, after some level of treatment). By practicing the three R's, Toyota saved 93.3 million gallons of water in North America during fiscal year 2014.

SPOTLIGHT: Turning Water Into Gold

Turning water into gold isn't as hard as it sounds. The Lexus South Paint shop at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada (TMMC) has cut water use in one process by 35 percent in the last year. That's good for the environment, good for the bottom line, and good for a gold. TMMC's efforts won them a Gold ECO Award from our parent company in 2013. This was their second Gold Award, making TMMC the only Toyota facility worldwide to receive two Gold ECO Awards.

During the painting process, each vehicle is rinsed a number of times. In one rinse cycle at TMMC's South Paint shop, 123 gallons (465 liters) of water are sprayed onto a vehicle. In the past, this water was sent directly to the drain and discharged. Now, changes to the process allow it to be captured, cleaned of metals and phosphate, and used for rinsing at a different stage.

Not only is the South Paint shop recycling 123 gallons per vehicle, they avoid using 43 gallons (165 liters) per vehicle of fresh water altogether. This adds up to a lot of water: 12.3 million gallons (46.5 million liters) of water per year are being recycled and the use of over 4.3 million gallons (16.5 million liters) has been eliminated completely.

"Water is a precious resource," said Frank Voss, General Manager - Lexus Plant. "We do our part to conserve, and every little bit counts. What's exciting about this project is the bigger picture. If it were adopted by more of Toyota's North American manufacturing plants, think of the amount of water we could save."

Frank is not alone in thinking about the bigger picture. Four of Toyota's North American plants are already planning to implement this kaizen.

The financial payback on the project has been less than a year. Plus, the higher volume of recycled water has an added benefit: an increase in quality. More water means faster dirt removal, which leads to a cleaner tank and fewer dirt defects on the more than 100,000 Lexus RX 350 and RX 450h SUVs annually moving through the paint shop.

TMMC, which operates plants in Cambridge and Woodstock, Ontario, also won a Silver ECO Award for coming up with a better way to separate oil and water in the North Paint shop. Surfactant is used to remove oil in the degrease bath, where it binds to oil particles. A recycling tower designed by North Paint team members separates oil from the surfactant, and the surfactant can now be recycled back into the process. This saves more than 3,100 gallons (12,000 liters) of surfactant and more than 105,000 gallons (400,000 liters) of water annually.

"TMMC's North Paint shop was the first shop in North America to recycle surfactant," said Jeff Small, Assistant Manager - Corolla Plant. "Every little bit we do to reduce, reuse and recycle is good for the environment. This just goes to show that green innovation can be seen not just in the amazing technology we develop for our vehicles, but throughout our entire company."


Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) established the Global ECO Awards in 2012 to recognize the environmental achievements of Toyota manufacturing centers around the world. Each year, North American manufacturing plants select kaizens and submit these to the North American manufacturing headquarters (TEMA) for review. TEMA then selects three kaizens to represent North America and compete against kaizens from other regions around the world. In the end, up to eight kaizens from the global pool are selected by TMC to receive a Gold Award. Platinum, Silver and Bronze awards are also granted.

Winners of Platinum and Gold awards travel to Japan to present their projects at the Global Environmental Meeting, held annually in November.


At Toyota, we are saving 73 million gallons of water each year by operating reverse osmosis (RO) concentrate recovery systems. That's the equivalent of about 110 Olympic-size swimming pools, 73 million gallons that we don't have to withdraw from an aquifer or buy from a utility.

Water needs to be clean and free of impurities before it can be used in our manufacturing processes. The RO recovery systems filter and purify water that previously was discharged from our plants to a local water treatment facility. The RO concentrate recovery systems have improved RO efficiency by 12 percent: With these systems, we now reject only 10 percent of the water we withdraw, down from 22 percent.

RO concentrate recovery systems are in place at Toyota's assembly plants in Princeton, Indiana; Georgetown, Kentucky; Cambridge and Woodstock, Ontario; and Tecate, Mexico. Our Woodstock plant is the latest plant to install an RO concentrate recovery system. The system went online in April 2014, and is expected to save 12 million gallons of water per year. Implementation of RO systems is planned for another two plants in the near future.


Sometimes just taking a step back is all our associates need to do to come up with simple solutions for using less water. Toyota's vehicle distribution center in Portland, Oregon, realized that water did not need to be deionized to get a spot-free wash. It takes several gallons of water to produce a single deionized gallon, and the process generates several gallons of wastewater. Once associates realized they were over-processing the water and didn't need to deionize it, they started washing vehicles with unprocessed city water with no impact on quality. They reduced annual water use by over 327,000 gallons.


Toyota's engine plant in Alabama is saving 300,000 gallons of water a year by reusing compressor condensate water in the cooling tower. The cooling tower accounts for 49 percent of the site's water use, making it the plant's largest water user. So it was natural for team members to focus on the cooling tower for water reductions.

Compressed air is generated and dried at the plant seven days a week. As the air is processed, condensate forms. Instead of discharging the condensate as wastewater, it is now redirected to the cooling tower for reuse.


Toyota Arizona Proving Ground (TAPG) is situated on 12,000 acres northwest of Phoenix. Thirty-five miles of paved test track and more than twice as many miles of unpaved surfaces wind their way through this desert landscape. TAPG is home to about 110 team members and contractors who support various testing for Toyota vehicles destined for the North American market.

An underground aquifer is the primary source of water for the site, and there is very little rainfall. "We've had less than 1.5 inches of rain in the past six months, which makes any rainfall we do get very important," said Daryl Petry, Senior Specialist at TAPG. "It was past time to rethink how we manage our water."

The major water user is the car wash, which cleans about 100 vehicles per week. A water recycling system was installed at the car wash to clean and reuse the water instead of discharging it into retention ponds. Once the water is cleaned, it's just as good for washing cars as water directly from the aquifer.

"Once this recycling system was operational, the need for the retention ponds went away," said Daryl. So the garage floor drains were capped, and wastewater is dumped by the floor scrubber into the car wash recycling system. The result: TAPG completely eliminated the discharge of all wastewater to these ponds.

The retention ponds, each about the size of a football field, once had the capacity to hold about 3 million gallons of water. The pond liners were disposed of properly, and the area was tested and determined to have no contamination.

"We no longer need a state wastewater permit for these ponds — a permit we had for many years — and we are using a lot less groundwater from our well," said Daryl. "In a few years, you won't even be able to tell the ponds were ever here." The area is being allowed to return to its natural state.

"This is a great example of teamwork between the Environmental and Facilities departments here at TAPG and state and local government," said Daryl. "We didn't keep doing something just because it's the way we had always done it. We changed course to find a way to save water, the most precious resource we have here in the desert."

SPOTLIGHT: Paint the Pipes Purple and Use Recycled Water

The San Antonio area relies heavily on water from the Edwards Aquifer, which has had limits on pumping since the early 1990's. Prolonged periods of drought are a way of life in this part of Texas.

"When Toyota chose San Antonio as the site for its 12th North American manufacturing plant, we knew water conservation would be a top priority," said Jorge Garcia, Manager for Plant Engineering & Environmental. "That's why we designed and built the plant to use recycled water for our production processes, cooling towers and irrigation."

Last year, the plant used about 1 million gallons of recycled water per production day, or about 250 million gallons. Recycled water makes its way into the plant in pipes painted purple, a color easily seen by team members. "We have large signs at every entrance and along our frontage road clearly stating our use of recycled water," said Jorge. "Our team members see these purple signs, which helps to keep water conservation top of mind."

In order to use recycled water in vehicle rinsing processes, the water must go through several treatment and filtration processes first. After the water is used, it is treated again to remove metals and meet all regulatory limits before it is sent back to the public utility. "Because of our treatment process, the water we discharge is actually cleaner than when we receive it," said Jorge.

Purple Pipe Award

In March 2014, Toyota's Texas plant received a Purple Pipe Award from the San Antonio Water System (SAWS) for their contribution to the SAWS Recycled Water Customer Program. SAWS is the public utility owned by the city whose mission is to provide sustainable, affordable water services to the growing San Antonio area. SAWS maintains the largest direct recycled water system in the country.

SAWS recycled water starts at the Dos Rios and Leon Creek wastewater treatment plants, which together have the capacity to treat up to 171 million gallons per day. After an extensive settling, filtering and treatment process, most of the recycled water is released back into the San Antonio River for environmental flows. The rest is pumped into the SAWS purple pipe system for reuse by San Antonio businesses, including Toyota.

Since opening in 2007, the plant has used about 1.9 billion gallons of recycled water. That's 1.9 billion gallons that weren't drawn from Edwards Aquifer. "We're proud to be part of the Recycled Water Program," said Jorge. "By using recycled water, we are part of a proactive system that ensures water will be available for people, nature and business for years to come."

Business Partners

Our business partners are our suppliers and dealerships. We are developing a new process to begin tracking water usage in our supply chain. The goal is to find ways to work together to conserve. We'll have more on that in next year's report.

The 42 Toyota and Lexus dealers that have achieved LEED® certification to date have all implemented water savings projects. These dealers applied for certification under the LEED NC (new construction) 3.0 standard, which required them to have a plan to achieve a minimum of 20 percent water savings. There was also extra credit for getting to 30 percent savings, which several of our dealers accomplished (including Mark Miller, Kendall-Eugene, and Rockwall, all Toyota dealerships). (Click here for a full list of LEED-certified Toyota and Lexus dealers.)

We encourage our dealers to pursue LEED certification with the U.S. and Canadian Green Building Councils, and assist them through the process. We track utility cost and usage information from all of our dealers, which allows us to identify opportunities for improvement. By analyzing monthly changes in water use, we've been able to help dealerships identify water leaks. Dealerships have vast amounts of piping, so finding and repairing these leaks is crucial to their water efficiency efforts.

Pat Lobb Toyota of McKinney, in the Dallas metro area, was the first Toyota dealership to become LEED certified. Pat Lobb has a 20,000-gallon water cistern that collects condensate from air conditioners and runoff from the roof, which covers a 50,000 square-foot building. The cistern collects about 5,000 gallons a day, and it is never empty. The water is used to irrigate the landscaped areas around the dealership, and is also provided to the local fire department for putting out fires that start along the state highway in McKinney.

Community Action

Companies can be active stewards of a healthy environment by supporting community efforts. That's why Toyota partners with the Wyland Foundation in support of the National Mayor's Challenge for Water Conservation. Mayors across the country once again asked residents to make a commitment to conserve water and cut pollution by taking part in a national contest aimed at drastically slashing water and energy use across the nation.

During April 2014, more than 100 U.S mayors participated in the National Mayor's Challenge for Water Conservation and encouraged their residents to make pledges online to reduce water and energy usage. Overall, over 23,000 residents from 3,600 cities in 50 states pledged 277,742 specific actions over the next year to change the way they use water in their homes, yards and communities.

By sticking to their commitments, the collective efforts of these residents will reduce national water waste by more than 1.4 billion gallons.

The challenge comes at a time when population growth, extreme weather patterns, water shortages, and poor infrastructure threaten access to a steady, sustainable supply of water in the United States. The National Mayor's Challenge for Water Conservation provides a positive way to reward residents across the country for using water wisely and controlling what goes down the drain and into their local watershed.

Click here for the full story.


Water is a finite resource, and Toyota's efforts to use less are only part of our approach to water stewardship. Healthy watersheds need more than adequate flow; they also need clean water and the right balance of animals and plants. To promote healthy watersheds, Toyota participates in a number of educational and biodiversity efforts.

Water Quality

We know the importance of water quality monitoring. Some of our sites discharge wastewater, and we monitor that wastewater to meet state and federal regulations and to ensure we don't negatively impact water bodies. In fact, Toyota requires all manufacturing sites to operate below discharge permit limits by 20 percent.

Toyota's Texas assembly plant makes an annual donation to support the San Antonio River Authority's monitoring system. The River Authority was established in 1937 to protect the San Antonio River Basin, an area covering over 3,600 square miles.

We also know the importance of teaching youngsters about water quality. Each year, team members from our Indiana assembly plant work with sixth-grade students to sample about 100 different lakes, rivers and streams across southwestern Indiana. Monitoring data is uploaded into the World Water Monitoring Challenge™ database. Click here to see the full story.

Species Diversity

Team members and associates have come up with a number of ways to support the diversity of species on and near our properties. In Mississippi, team members at the manufacturing plant placed 20 wood duck nesting boxes around the site. Wood ducks are found in slow-moving woodland rivers, shallow ponds and marshes, often in areas where large shade trees overhang the water. They also occur in open marshes adjacent to forested areas. The boxes are monitored for activity during the wood duck nesting season. After only one year, team members discovered three of the boxes had eggs.

Click here for more information on our efforts to enhance biodiversity at our Mississippi plant.

Habitat Restoration

Many species live on or near water bodies. Team members and associates participate in a variety of events to keep waterways free of debris. For example, team members from our manufacturing headquarters in Erlanger, Kentucky, participate in an annual River Sweep of the Ohio River. In 2014, they helped remove trash from the river banks in Belleview and Covington.

We also continue to sponsor National Public Lands Day (NPLD). Toyota supported 36 NPLD sites in 2013, helping to clean up parks, streams and recreation sites across the U.S.; 14 of these were parks with notable water bodies:

  • Dauphin Island Beach, Alabama
  • Audubon Least Tern Colony, California
  • Lytle Creek, California
  • Newport Bay Nature Preserve, California
  • Santa Fe Dam Recreational Area, California
  • Deerfield Beach, Florida
  • Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve State Park, Florida
  • West Hill Dam, Massachusetts
  • Belle Isle, Michigan
  • Cuivre River State Park, Missouri
  • Smithville Lake, Missouri
  • Cathedral Park, Portland Harbor, Oregon
  • Woodlawn Lake, Texas
  • Valley Falls State Park, West Virginia

Keeping these habitats clean and free of trash and debris protects the quality of the water. In 2013, over 180,000 individuals came out to support NPLD, showing the power of collective action. Click here to read the full story.