Water efficiency makes good business sense
In these times of financial belt tightening, many organizations are looking for ways to lower costs, become more efficient, and increase competitiveness.
Although there are probably thousands of ways of doing this, there is one option you may not have considered – reducing your water consumption.
By reducing your organization's water use, and by using water wisely, you can save money – up to 30 percent of your water bill! You can also improve our environment.
The industrial, commercial and institutional sectors are also key allies in helping municipalities save money. Reducing water consumption will reduce the need to build new water and wastewater treatment plants – paid by taxpayers – which would cost $2.5 billion over the next 20 years.
The benefits of using less
Your organization can realize the following benefits through increased water efficiency:
1. Lower costs. If your water is metered, you can reduce your water costs by using less water. If your sewer surcharge is a percentage of your water consumption, you can save there, too. Lower energy costs are a further benefit of reducing water use. By taking measures to reduce water use, you can develop more efficient processes and operations within your facility.
2. Greater competitiveness. Increased efficiency will lead to cost and time savings. These will lead to greater competitiveness for your organization.
3. Enhanced public image. By demonstrating to the public your willingness to become more environmentally responsible, you can gain public respect and loyalty, and publicity.
4. Cleaner environment. By reducing water use, less energy is needed for pumping and fewer chemicals are needed to treat both water and wastewater. The result? A cleaner environment now and for future generations.
Developing a comprehensive program that reflects your facility's water use depends on four key steps:
1. Gain senior management support and commitment. It is crucial that senior management support the program ideologically and financially. Short payback periods make water efficiency a sound investment for a fast yet long-term solution.
2. Get to know your facility by conducting a water audit. A water audit allows you to measure water use in different areas of your facility, assess where water overuse or abuse is taking place, and where leaks might be. The three main activities involved in a water audit include:
- Getting to know your water system: Identify all areas of the facility with hot or cold water supplies. Also note the location of distribution pipes, flow meters, water storage facilities, taps, valves, etc.
- Developing an inventory: Find out how water is used in each area of your facility by involving knowledgeable staff and measuring water flows. Once you know how much water is being used in each process or area of operation, you can identify potential water reduction measures.
- Preparing a water balance: All water used in your facility should be identified and quantified, and the total volume of water supplied accounted for. You may want to break the water balance down into smaller areas to accurately identify specific areas of overuse or leaks.
3. Develop a water efficiency plan. Using the information gained from the water audit, you can develop a simple, step-by-step water efficiency plan that outlines water reduction goals and strategies. Your plan should be kept simple and practical so that it can easily be revised. Each plan should include these basic components:
- Policy statement that reflects the commitment of senior management.
- Water reduction goals that are specific, measurable and achievable. State the goal measurement (litres, percentage, etc.), when each goal is expected to be achieved, and by what means.
- Action plan outlining specific tasks, associated costs, and how your organization's water use habits can change. Your action plan will likely include one or more of the following measures:
- system optimization
- water saving devices
- reuse/recycling process changes
- alternative water sources
- metering leak detection and reduction measures
4. Develop an employee/tenant participation and awareness program. The participation, cooperation and commitment of your facility's employees or tenants are essential to the success of your program. The following are some suggestions on how to communicate policies, programs, ideas, announcements, progress reports and special achievements:
- form a committee of employees or tenants to help develop a program
- create a suggestion box and incentive program that recognizes people with water saving ideas
- discuss water efficiency progress at staff meetings
- create a newsletter or use an existing one
- post special bulletins
- distribute information with pay cheques
- sponsor a slogan or poster contest
- use displays or exhibits in lobby or cafeteria
- offer water-saving devices to employees or tenants
- develop audio-visual programsbring in speakers from other organization