The Total Cost of Water

When your facility uses water, there are other expenses that aren’t necessarily reflected in your water bill.

The total cost of water can often be three times the direct cost of water and sewer, when you account for the indirect costs shown above. As your organization takes water management more seriously and treats water as a valuable resource, it doesn’t just lower your water bill—the savings flow into these areas, too. Here’s how your facility’s water use carries over into these hidden costs.


When you use more water, your pumps and other equipment have to use more energy to move, cool, and heat it. So leaks and other water-related issues—or even just poor water management—can impact your utility bills for gas and electricity, not just water. Problems with your cooling tower, for example, like scaling, contamination, or corrosion, can steadily increase the expenses associated with all three of these utilities.


Your staff spends a lot of time maintaining equipment that uses water. When problems go undetected, they can quickly snowball into much larger maintenance issues like making major repairs, cleaning up leaks, and even replacing equipment. The more water you use, the more time your employees will spend dealing with the effects of that water usage. Responsible water management equips your employees to respond to potential problems sooner and identify the source of water waste events faster.

Service fees

Every time you have to pay a specialist to service your cooling tower or other water-related equipment, that’s a cost that won’t show up on your water bill. Optimizing your water consumption, properly maintaining your equipment, eliminating waste, and identifying potential issues early can reduce your reliance on specialized contractors to correct major problems.

Water treatment

Some processes that use water need regular chemical treatments to prevent the harmful buildup of minerals and bacteria. Others need water treatments to remove contaminants from wastewater. As you use more water, you’ll also use greater quantities of chemicals on water treatments.

Damaged equipment

Low-flow events and other water-related issues can easily result in damaged—or even destroyed—equipment. Excessive water waste also increases the wear and tear on your water infrastructure, so it doesn’t last as long as it’s designed to. Not only does this mean you have to pay to repair or replace crucial machinery, but it can also result in unscheduled downtime for specific pieces of equipment or even entire operations. This lost time is an indirect result of your water usage, and poor water management can increase the frequency and severity of these costs.

Sewer fees

Typically, your monthly sewer fee is directly tied to your water use. Your utility provider will usually assume that by default, the water that flows into your facility is going down the drain. You’re essentially paying for the same water twice. So every time you have a water waste event—such as a valve being left on by mistake—you’re basically buying water you don’t need and then paying to remove it. If you have an evaporative cooling tower, however, a significant amount of the water you use in your regular operations returns to the atmosphere, not the sewer. So if you haven’t already, you may be eligible for a sewer rebate or evaporative credit program through your utility provider.

Compliance fees

Environmental regulations are designed to curb behavior that damages the environment, such as wasting or contaminating water. Using abnormal amounts of water can cause you to incur more compliance fees associated with environmental regulations. Additionally, your local government may charge compliance fees for specific water-related equipment or operations. This is all part of the cost of your facility’s water use. Most of these hidden costs don’t show up on your water bill. And it can be difficult to pin down exactly how your water use impacts your expenses in each of these areas, but the ripples of your water use go far beyond the gallons you pay for. 

Let’s save water together 

At Apana, our Water Efficiency as a Service platform helps you use water more efficiently and detect (and resolve) water waste events quickly. We help clients save hundreds of millions of gallons of water annually. 

Connect with our solutions team to see how we can lower your water bill and address the total costs of your water use.