Why would someone take the time, effort and resources to implement an Industrial Water Management program?  Three primary reasons…

Industrial Water Management Programs Increase Profitability

Water costs money, and although (currently) very inexpensive, the purchase of large quantities still impacts overall financial performance.  A recent Black & Veatch survey assessing commercial municipal water rates for the largest 50 U.S. metropolitan areas indicated an average cost $2.78 per 1,000 gallons.  Based on our experience, a typical water balance assessment costs approximately $35-45k for a facility using approximately 100 million gallons per year.  These costs cover minor infrastructure improvements (flow-meters, data-loggers), assessment equipment rental (pipe-tracing video units, non-intrusive flow-meters) and professional service fees (people like me).  Typically, these assessments reveal opportunities for annual water-use savings of 7-15% (7-15 mgal/year).  This results in return-on-investment periods of 1-2 years, depending on actual water costs.

These savings exclude reductions in the cost associated with sewerage expenditures, which average approximately 150% of water purchase costs.  Since the vast majority of industrial facilities consume only a fraction of the withdrawn water, reductions in water-use directly correlate with reductions in discharge water quantities.

Finally, properly implemented Industrial Water Management programs often provide opportunities for reducing “dirty water” generation through manufacturing processes.  This, in turn, results in smaller-scale (read: cheaper) treatment or handling systems.

Only taxes and death come with guarantees.  That being said, we have yet to engage with a facility where the costs of implementing an Industrial Water Management program were not recoverable (through water purchase reductions, diminished sewerage costs, and treatment system size minimization) within a year.  After initial payback, cost savings go immediately towards boosting bottom-line performance.

Industrial Water Management Programs Ease Regulatory Burdens

As overall water demands increase, regulatory pressures follow suit.  Stricter effluent standards for process discharge waters (and stormwater runoff) are being developed, particularly for arid regions such as California.  These increases in effluent standards create the potential for regulatory conflicts, such as issuance of Notice of Violations (NOV) or (in California, for example) 13267 Investigative Orders.  These regulatory actions enable agencies to demand detailed requests on overall water-use, transport, and more comprehensive contaminant profiling of discharge waters.  Properly implemented Industrial Water Management programs generally not only satisfy these regulatory requirements, but often limit the likelihood of even encountering regulatory issues in the first place.

Industrial Water Management Programs and Corporate Sustainability Goals

Corporate sustainability is perhaps the highest public-profile reason for implementing an Industrial Water Management program.  Mounting evidence  indicates sustainability programs within resource intensive industries are both a requirement and, when successfully incorporated, boost overall profitability.  The critical aspect of sustainability programs involves directly identifying and quantifying metrics useful for informing overall business and operational strategies.  Industrial Water Management programs are the easiest method for incorporating baseline and on-going assessments of water-use as part of a broader corporate sustainability program.  While Corporate Social Responsibility and sustainability may be somewhat vague ideas, nearly everyone understands what an enterprise means when it states a goal (and achievement) of using 15% less water by 2014.

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