The United States is a major player in world industry, and therefore a dominant consumer of the planet’s available freshwater. In 2010, 93% of surface-water used in industry was freshwater. Based on this statistic, industry has considerable room to reduce their water usage. Benefits of reducing water consumption in industry are numerous; reduced operation costs being a major motivator. Utilizing energy-efficient technology and innovation is critical to reducing water consumption and limiting operation costs in a world of limited resources.
The first step to reducing water consumption in industry is to identify current water usage. This can be accomplished be reviewing past water bills, or by undertaking a water audit. An audit establishes baseline water usage data and reveals areas in the operation with high water consumption. If baseline data does not exist prior to consumption-reducing efforts, no way exists to monitor progress. Once a business knows the current state of water usage, it can set specific, measurable, goals to achieve in the future. Here are some water saving tips for industry.
Reuse non-potable water for other operations. Water leftover from one sector of an operation can be reused for another purpose. For example, water used for cleaning can be filtered and reused for landscaping, or for cooling equipment. Another example is taking otherwise wasted condensate water from cooling towers and reusing it as “make up” water, or water that is used to replace water lost by evaporation. Even though condensate water is not safe for consumption due to a high concentration of heavy metals, it is perfectly safe for cooling tower use.
Reduce the amount of blowdown water from cooling towers by carefully maximizing cycles of concentration. Cooling towers are often the greatest consumers in industrial operations, providing considerable opportunity for advancement. Each cooling tower cycle, wastewater high in dissolved solids leaves the tower and is replaced by fresh water. If monitored carefully, industries can significantly reduce their fresh water usage.
Retrofit existing equipment and fixtures. Setting appliance parameters to meet the minimum water requirement for usage; installing automatic shut-off nozzles to hoses; switching to high-pressure, low-volume hose nozzles; and installing water efficient sink faucets, shower heads, and toilets are several ways to retrofit existing equipment to save water.
Replace outdated equipment with energy-efficient alternatives. Water usage is also cut by investing in equipment with water-saving technology or “dry” equipment that doesn’t require water. One example is using air-cooled equipment (such as an air-cooled compressor), in place of water-cooled equipment whenever possible.
Removing water from cleaning processes when a dry alternative is possible. Evaluating each step in an industry’s cleaning procedures may reveal simple opportunities to reduce water consumption by utilizing practices that require little to no water. For example, sweeping or vacuuming prior to water-based methods could reduce water usage without infrastructure costs.
Reduce the amount of water needed for non-essential operation activities. Landscaping is a great example. By landscaping with drought-resistant, drought-tolerant, and species native to the climate, less water is lost to landscaping activities that are not inherently fundamental to the operation.
Perhaps your organization has made headway into these first steps into monitoring and reducing water consumption. APANA provides the tools and services to acquire water data, monitor and verify use, report on conservation initiatives, and enact comprehensive water management.