“The amount of
water on the planet does not change, only its quality.” We recently installed
this quote by American oceanography Walter Munk, in our training center. Although
the quantity of water on the planet has remained constant, population growth,
increased industrial demand, and climate change have all impacted its use – affecting
the value and cost of water.
Water is used as a raw material, solvent, coolant, and
energy source. Consumer demand has doubled since 1950 and is expected to double
again by 2030. According to the Water Resources Group, “In just 15 years, the
world will demand 40% more water than the available supply.” All consumer
choices have an impact on water usage and consumers are more conscious of our
water footprint and conservation efforts. It is important to change how we view,
use, and manage this valuable resource.
Cost of Water for Industrial
Industrial facilities use large amounts of fresh
water. It can impact a facility at several points during the production
process. Some water costs facilities face:
- Water itself. The
cost of the water coming into the plant.
- Preparing water for use. Depending on the incoming water quality, the water may need
to go through several steps of preparation, including addressing the water for
hardness, alkalinity, pH, and mineral content.
- Preparing water for discharge. What is the plant’s effluent quality? Facilities face the
cost of equipment and associated costs to treat wastewater with high levels of
BOD, COD or suspended solids such as zinc, iron, lead or nickel.
- Discharging process wastewater to publically owned treatment facilities. What are local discharge limits? If
discharged water does not meet regulatory standards there is the cost to treat
high-strength waste that exceeds the established limits.
- Equipment maintenance. Facilities need to manage their water as effectively as
possible to maximize the use of their equipment and increase its life span.
- Consumerism. More and more consumers are looking
to buy products from suppliers who are responsible and promote their brand as
sustainable. If one is not perceived as a good steward of the environment, customer
loyalty can be affected.
Management Controls Cost
There are ways to
save and strategies to help reduce usage. By reducing water usage, facilities
also achieve reduced energy cost, chemical cost savings, and other benefits.
Ways to reduce, reuse and recycle:
- Facility water usage audit. Understand where water is being used to help identify where
saving measures can be implemented. Use meters and sub-meters to track and
record usage to establish a baseline, track anything out-of-range, and pinpoint
where to make corrections.
- Use non-potable water when appropriate. Some industrial processes do not require potable
water and water can be reclaimed or reused, such as condensate from air
conditioners, reject from reverse osmosis systems, or cooling tower blowdown.
- Improve boiler operations. Work with a water treatment company to make sure all pre-treatment
equipment is operating at peak performance so you can minimize water usage. By
maintaining high-quality boiler feedwater you can run maximum cycles of
concentration and reduce blowdown frequency. An automated system can also help
regulate blowdown and maintain cycles of concentration at the optimal level. Reducing
the amount of blowdown and fresh makeup water required can result in
significant water and cost savings.
- Improve cooling tower operations. Work with a water treatment company to determine what is
necessary to run at maximum cycles of concentration. This may include pH
control or softening the water. An automated system to control your water
management plan, also provides consistency and controls water usage.
- Install automated chemical feed systems. Real-time monitoring and 24/7
chemical feed control prevents over-feeding and improves consistency. This
reduces not only chemical usage, but water and energy usage, as well. Having
consistent quality can improve the longevity of your equipment.
- Provide ongoing operator training. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of a facility’s
maintenance team to run their system. Having highly trained people to manage pre-treatment
equipment, perform testing and respond to challenges efficiently and
effectively, will be a company’s greatest asset. Watertech-U offers free ongoing
training sessions on how equipment works, proper testing procedures, and industry
best practices to ensure your team has the information and resources they need
to do their job.
The cost of not addressing water scarcity is a reality
we can’t ignore. If we all strive toward more sustainable usage and make small
changes, we can achieve big results!