Water Stewardship Programme
To support the manufacturing industry in Ireland to safeguard our precious water supply, we have produced a simple guide of steps to help the industry to lower water consumption and operating costs while protecting the environment.
For further support, the manufacturing industry can avail of our free training programme – a Certification in International Best Practice Water Stewardship.
Water mapping of your business
A water balance provides a full picture of every water-consuming component on site and serves as the first step in uncovering hidden opportunities for savings. We propose including all flows of water into and out of the six basic categories from the water balance format provided below.
- Inlet water pre-treatment
- Cooling towers
- Processing (any water consuming facility which is a part of the production process)
- Wastewater plant (if it exists), or water effluent
- Other (ash ponds in a power plant)
Capturing Water Related Costs
In addition to capturing related flow capacities, collecting all related costs such as those listed below will provide an insight into where to save money on water bills.
- Water use
- Wastewater discharge fees
- Pre-treatment technology
- Energy costs associated with water use (heating, pumping, water treatment etc.)
- Regulatory costs (permits, compliance assessment, etc.)
- Costs for water management measures (staff time / resources, technology, equipment and materials)
Identify Efficiency Opportunities
Based on your water balance, rank the various components by water usage and focus on the largest water users. Identify leakages and sources for waste like excess cleaning and washing.
Sources for Water Reuse and Recycling
Replace single-pass cooling systems, where water is circulated once through a piece of equipment and then discharged to a sewer, with a process or cooling loop. This loop provides water at a pre-set temperature to cool equipment. When a process loop is not possible, reusing single loop discharge water for irrigation or other non-potable water requirements is another way to increase water efficiency.
Equipment Rinsing and Cleaning
Countercurrent rinsing is typically the most water efficient method for rinsing equipment. In this process, the cleanest water is used only for the final or last stages of a rinse operation; water for early rinsing tasks, when the quality of the water is not as important, can be collected from water that is used during later stages in the process. Another form of efficiency rinsing is batch processing, when several pieces of equipment are cleaned at the same time, using rinses from one process in another.
For many facilities, cooling towers represent the single largest opportunity for greater water efficiency. Cooling towers should be investigated to determine how many times water circulates before it is bled off and discharged. Increasing the recycle rate of the tower results in multiple savings, from water and sewer costs to savings on the purchase of chemicals used to treat both incoming and discharged water.
Alternative Water Sources
Large facilities are good candidates for alternative water sources due to the fact that they typically use large amounts of non-potable water. Companies may be able to update processes to allow for the use of saline and wastewater instead of fresh water. This approach reduces the impact on freshwater resources with subsequent benefits to the local community and the ecosystem. The two most useful “alternative” water sources for facilities are air-conditioning condensate recovery and rainwater harvesting.
Getting your stakeholders involved early on is essential in establishing initial buy-in, and ensuring the ongoing succcess of any water conservation campaign.
Engage Your Employees as a Source for Water Savings Ideas
- Survey your employee base by asking them to identify sources of waste. Employee awareness is a great way to uncover savings opportunities and to engage them in an execution program.
- Launch an employee awareness program. Provide them incentives and awards such as the most eco-friendly employee award, for being proactive in helping your company save water.
- Communicate with them on weekly basis – progress and success stories.
- Hold managers accountable for adopting ideas and executing them.
Develop strategy and action plan
- Identify process and product innovations and estimate the total effect on water savings to establish a goal.
- Establish a budget and procure funding. Outside funding and grants can be available – try Enterprise Ireland GreenPlus or GreenStart programmes.
- Develop a timeline for implementation and schedule periodic reviews with the water efficiency team to monitor progress.
- Develop an internal communications plan to continue engaging employees and creating awareness.