MORE than all other state and territory capitals Sydney is gripped by drought, the precious water supply shrinking week by week. Other Australian cities may not be aware of the deprivations Sydneysiders and businesses are suffering. Water authorities are implementing programs that may well act as a pilot scheme for all of Australia, as it addresses the many dry years to come.
Four years ago, Sydney was in a similar situation, which necessitated the launch of Sydney Water's ''Every Drop Counts'' business program. It attracted more than 200 members and generated savings of 11 million litres of water per day. That is the equivalent of 11 Olympic size swimming pools of water each day.
The returning drought conditions mean that businesses are being asked to get smart about how they use water. Sydney Water supplies businesses with Energetics' water management diagnostic tool called One-2-Five Water that enables business to evaluate their water use. This is done as a business resource rather than a technical issue. The tool takes into account factors such as regulatory compliance, plans, accountabilities, maintenance and performance.
Sydney Water then helps each business draw up a plan according to where their water savings may be. This is then followed by continual progress reviews. The businesses can also draw on Sydney Water's technical expertise at any time.
Often businesses find additional savings identified in the hidden costs, such as trade waste fees, labour and sewer discharges.
Three years ago, the Ashfield Hotel, with its three bars, one bistro and a gaming room, felt they could improve their water management.
Approaching Sydney Water, they arranged a water audit that identified wastage in the men's toilets through leakages and bad flushing calibrations.
By rectifying these factors and educating the staff on water management, for an initial capital outlay of $1300, the Hotel soon found itself saving around $11,600 annually in water and sewage charges. The outlay was recouped in just one month.
Pharmaceuticals giant GlaxosmithKline's Ermington site uses around 60,000 kilolitres of water annually, and spends around $100,000 on water and related services per year. Using Sydney Water's ''Every Drop Counts'' system, the company found they could reduce water use by 40 per cent.
''We are now saving around 30,000 litres of water per day just by recycling waste water through our air-conditioning cooling towers,'' says the chief engineer, GlaxoSmithKline, Mr Geoff Crombie.
To date 30 local councils have joined the program. Combined, they have a potential to save 300,000 litres of water per day, equating to more than $100,000 per year in monetary terms.
''Businesses are reaping the rewards which can all be re-invested,'' Mr Evans says.