Between the price
volatility of water, a growing concern for freshwater supply, and the necessity
of water use in production processes, maintenance, and human consumption, it
can be difficult for business owners and facility managers to manage water use
in a way that is both good for business and good for the environment.
The first step in
reducing water costs is understanding where they come from. You can use that
knowledge to identify opportunities to reduce, reuse, and treat water to meet
your goals without sacrificing quality and safety.
Know Where Your Water
is Being Used
Your water bill informs you of all the freshwater you’ve
drawn in, but it takes a little more digging to determine where it went and how
efficiently it was used. Just like at home, an unattended hose or faucet sends
gallons of water down the drain by the minute. And you’re paying for it.
A water audit conducted by a water management partner will
help you see the big picture. Once the audit is complete, divide water use into
categories that you can begin to address one by one, such as:
- Production process (fabricating, processing,
washing, diluting, cooling, transporting)
- Heating and cooling the building
- Cleaning (office areas, plant floor, equipment)
- Consumption (human, facility, and product)
- Uncontrolled water losses
There are many different tactics for using water smarter. Remember,
reducing freshwater use does not mean reducing overall water use. The tactics
you choose may depend on facility location, production processes, operating
budget, and/or water reduction goals.
Four Approaches to
Water Use Management
Following are four approaches to water management that are
used in combination to create a water management plan. You can use this list to
inform the development of a water management plan. Because these changes will
make an immediate impact, feel free to experiment and test different tactics
until you have a system in place that works best for you.
efficiency focuses on reducing the amount of water that is wasted during a
process. A few tactics that improve water efficiency include:
- Develop a water treatment plan that maintains
proper water chemistries, ensuring pipes and heat transfer surfaces remain free
from scale and corrosion, and power plant equipment runs at peak performance.
- Install automation equipment to monitor and
analyze water usage in all critical areas.
- Properly train all plant personnel in water
treatment, monitoring, and management practices.
Review electrical demands and controls for
pumping, heating, or cooling water. For example, install variable frequency
drives and smaller pumps or motors where applicable.
- Assess HVAC systems for operational efficiency.
conservation tactics restrict the amount of water required for a particular
- Install water efficient equipment: recirculating
systems for heating and cooling, properly sized water pretreatment equipment
and properly applied water pretreatment.
- Replace old equipment with higher efficiency
- Replace water-cooled equipment with air-cooled
- Educating employees about the importance of
using less water.
- Installing hoses with automatic shut-off nozzles.
treating, and filtering water allows you to extend the life of water while
it is in your facility. Common tactics include:
- Instead of letting clean, non-potable water from
sources like cooling towers, rain collection, sinks, and machines go down the
drain, this water can be used for processes that don’t require potable water,
such as cleaning and cooling.
- Install a reverse osmosis system, which purifies
water by removing ions, contaminates, and larger particles. When applied properly, RO water allows less water, chemical and energy to be used.
- Develop a water treatment plan that maintains
proper water chemistries to keep your facility operating efficiently and to
protect against scale, microorganisms and biofilm.
control initiatives will drive down any costs related to overpaying for
water, such as:
- Monitor water inputs and outputs to the point
that you can determine how much water goes in the sewer and how much goes to
the publicly owned treatment works (POTW). Then assure any water entering your
facility that does not go to the sewer or POTW is communicated to the local
utility so they can apply the appropriate credit to your bill.
- Meet wastewater discharge limits. The discharge
of contaminated water is a chargeable offense that leads to large surcharges,
potentially large fines, and could prompt a plant shutdown.
- Investigate the potential to treat water
currently being hauled off due to contamination.
In the end, you can’t
manage what you don’t measure. Get smarter about getting the most value for
your water use dollar by consulting with your water management partner today.