Every gallon of water saved means less water is drawn from ground sources, rivers, and reservoirs, and less energy is required to treat and deliver the water. This also means less wastewater is created and discharged.
Water conservation also helps cut down emissions from power and wastewater treatment plants. Remember that each gallon of water has been delivered by pumps from a water reservoir to its point of use. After it is used, energy is needed to transport the water to a centralized wastewater treatment facility; where it is aerated, settled, filtered, treated and then transported to a discharge point. There it is usually mixed with clean water so that the cycle can begin again.
Global water consumption has risen almost tenfold since 1900, and many parts of the world are now reaching the limits of their supply. World population is expected to increase by 45% in the next thirty years, whilst freshwater runoff is expected to increase by 10%. UNESCO has predicted that by 2020 water shortage will be a serious worldwide problem.
One third of the world’s population is already facing problems due to both water shortage and poor drinking water quality. Effects include massive outbreaks of disease, malnourishment and crop failure. Furthermore, excessive use of water has seen the degradation of the environment costing the world billions of dollars.
There are a wide variety of opportunities for businesses to reduce their water use and expense. Here are some quick ways that involve little or no up-front costs.
- Increase employee awareness of water conservation
Work with all employees to develop methods and procedures that will reduce water use. Evaluate how employees are using water and determine, with their help, more efficient alternatives.
- Actually study your water bill each month
Compare the results to the same month of the previous year. This will help you to both identify leaks as they occur and monitor your conservation efforts.
- Check for leaks
A leaking toilet can waste more than 50 gallons of water each day and a dripping faucet or showerhead can waste up to 1,000 gallons per week!
- Install faucet aerators
Inexpensive and simple to install, low-flow faucet aerators can reduce your business’ water consumption as much as 50% and reduce your energy cost of heating the water also by as much as 50%.
- Operate cooling towers & boilers according to manufacturers’ specifications
Reduce excessive blow-down. Many cooling towers operate below the suggested levels of total dissolved solids (TDS) unnecessarily. Adjust boiler and cooling tower blow-down rate to maintain TDS at levels recommended by manufacturers’ specifications.
- Discontinue using water to clean paved areas
Instead of hosing down entrances, sidewalks, parking lots and loading docks, sweep or use a blower to clean these areas.
- Wash vehicles only when necessary
If your business operates a fleet of vehicles, do not wash them on a regular schedule; instead wash them only when they are dirty. Consider washing the vehicles at a commercial car wash that recycles the water.
- Review your landscaping practices
First, detect and repair all leaks in your irrigation systems. Make sure the sprinklers are watering the landscaping only – not the street or sidewalk. Water your landscape during the coolest part of the day and install moisture sensors to reduce unnecessary watering. Once you have incorporated these ideas into your work routine, upgrade inefficient equipment and processes.
- Upgrade your irrigation systems
An inefficient irrigation system can cost your business hundreds or even thousands of dollars each month in wasted water. Upgrade your system so that it automatically shuts off when it’s raining, reads real-time ET for accurate irrigation run times and/or incorporates flow sensors that turn the system off in the event of leaks or broken heads.
- Replace air conditioners and refrigerators
If your company’s air conditioners or refrigerators use water-cooled condensers, investigate air-cooled equipment for possible inefficiencies.
- Install water-efficient toilets, urinals and faucets
Replacing toilets that use 3.5 gallons or more per flush, and urinals that use 2 gallons or more per flush, can often produce substantial savings. Low-flow faucets are also a sound alternative to those that use 1 gallon or more per minute.
- Switch to efficient ice machines
Air-cooled ice machines are much more cost-effective and efficient than models that use water for cooling. Check to see if your ice machines are water or air-cooled.
- Automate your cooling tower
Cooling towers, located at many large buildings, use water through evaporation and “blow-down.” Rebates are available for modifications to ensure the water blowdown is operated in the most efficient manner possible.
- Reuse process water
Many industrial processes require heated or cooled process water. By reusing process water, your business can lower its water bill as well as its energy expenses.