Top 10 water saving tips

01 Dec 2009Archived News Climate Change Matters

There are savings to be made through water conservation and efficiency. Water costs must include chemical use, discharge fees and a raft of hidden operational costs. What are the top 10 cost saving tips?

Businesses are concerned about secure water services and maintaining water costs. Production may require water as an essential component and high financial losses may occur (or opportunities lost) if water is unavailable.

The business community has a high awareness of water related issues. Climate change, water scarcity and the global financial crisis are leading to investor demand for increased transparency for water-related risks. Water presents critical underlying resource supply limitations for many organisations. The prolonged drought, water scarcity and water restrictions in most capital cities create high social awareness of water issues. High community awareness creates increased expectations of the business sector. Businesses are expected to behave responsibly in their use of water. Here are some simple tips to reduce water use for your business to ensure sustainable water management.

1. Do you need to use water?

Quite simply - do you need to use water? Examine where you use water in your business. Most businesses would already have completed this through their water efficiency plans required by State governments. Your water efficiency plan will include a water balance, identifying all water uses.
Simple measures to eliminate water use include:

  • Sweeping instead of washing down
  • Installing dry lube systems (instead of wet)
  • Installing air cooling systems
  • Selecting drought tolerant plant species

2. Metering and monitoring of your water

“When you cannot measure, your knowledge is meagre and unsatisfactory.” Lord Kelvin
Metering and monitoring enables you to understand your water use. Reading your meter enables you to develop a profile of your water usage. Daily meter reading is recommended enabling you to develop a more accurate profile. For large water users, real time metering and monitoring enables accurate control of water. This can be integrated into existing process control systems or building management systems where appropriate.

Water metering enables leaks to be readily identified. Variances in water uses will be readily identified and investigated. Rapid response ensures that leaks are not left undetected for long periods of time. Significant savings are attained by quickly identifying and fixing water leaks.

3. Key performance indicators (KPIs)

Key performance indicators (KPIs) provide a measure of your water performance. Invoices enable you to drive business performance. For example, the commercial sector has developed an industry standard through the NABERs Water rating scheme. Market drivers ensure that appropriate KPIs are established. The challenge for other sectors is the selection of meaningful KPIs. Often total water consumption is used as an overall target. Yet this does not provide a water efficiency KPI that is linked to an actual performance unit e.g. production rate, revenue generated, people served, etc. The challenge is in the establishment of meaningful real time KPIs. This enables actual performance and variance to be quickly identified by staff. Sustained water efficient performance is then incorporated into business practice.

4. Tracking and reporting your water use

Now that you measure your water and have clear KPIs, businesses need to track water use. Formalised reporting systems enable you to track your water use. Regular and formalised reporting systems ensure that your operations and management divisions are aware of water use and cost.

Variance reporting, that is highlighting the difference between actual water use and expected water use, provides a powerful tool to identify any anomalies. A simple traffic light system (green, amber and red) is a quick way to highlight your performance. You can then focus on areas that require attention, ensuring that you quickly address areas outside of target.

5. Understand the true value of water

Do you know how much one litre of water costs your business? Not only do you have to pay for the purchase of the water, you also have to pay for the wastewater charges and other uses such as energy, chemical treatment, pumping, storage and equipment. The cost of water can reach up to $6/kL when the additional costs are included. So not only do savings reflect reduced water cost but also associated water charges. Understanding the true cost of water to your business enables accurate business case development for your business.

6. Water efficient fittings and equipment

The purchase of water efficient fittings and equipment is a simple way of reducing water costs. Ensure that you purchase WELS rated taps and fittings. Ensure that process and manufacturing equipment are the most efficient available.

In the current water scarce environment, it may seem obvious to purchase water efficient equipment, yet this is not always the case. Too often there is a disconnection between the procurement department and the buyer. Ensure that your procurement policies specify the purchase of water efficient taps, fittings and equipment. Guidance is required to ensure that the policy is adhered to.

7. Water awareness within your business

Being aware of water scarcity and where you use water enables you to save money. Typical awareness campaigns contribute to a 5% reduction in water consumption and costs.

  • Signs
  • Websites
  • Interactive games
  • Discussion at tool box sessions

Throughout Australia, most local water authorities support awareness activities and will have access to water awareness materials.

8. Reflect water responsibilities in job descriptions

To drive continuous improvement in water management, people must be accountable for water use. By aligning water responsibilities within your team member’s job descriptions, clear goals and incentives are provided for people. This action is essential to ensure that your people are aligned with your business objectives.

9. Ensure your HVAC systems are operating efficiently

Optimising heating and ventilation air conditioning (HVAC) systems results in both water and energy savings. Cooling towers are large water and energy users. Simple tips to optimise your HVAC system include:

  • Align operation times of your HVAC system with your operation hours
  • Examine base loads and ensure that your HVAC system is not operating through weekend periods or other shut down periods
  • Measure and meter water usage
  • Measure conductivity
  • Maximise cycles of concentration

10. Alternative water sources

Supplementing your potable water sources with alternative water sources will reduce your drinking water costs. You can harvest rainwater, harvest stormwater, reuse water and connect to recycled water supplies. Alternative water sources provide a clear reduction in drink water consumption. Your individual site will determine the feasibility of alternative water sources. The most cost effective solution arises when you incorporate alternative water sources into major upgrades or expansions.

A systematic approach to management water and environmental sustainability is essential for cost reduction and the strategic position of your business. Market position and the value of brand reputation are well understood to the business community. To protect and enhance brand reputation, responsible water management is required. Sustainable water management incorporating water efficient processes not only drives down costs but also positions you in the market place.

 

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