Creating Water Efficient Businesses
In any industry, a key aspect of ensuring quality service is recognizing that not all customers are alike. Welsh Water has developed a range of programs to cater for its business customers’ specific needs, helping them make the most efficient and cost-effective use of water.
By Robert C. Brears*
Welsh Water supplies water to over 100,000 business customers in Wales and adjoining parts of England. Many companies know how much water they use but do not always use this knowledge to help them reduce consumption. Companies that do take a systematic approach to reduce water usage typically achieve a 20-50% decrease in the amount of water they use. This, in turn, saves the company money on both water supply and wastewater disposal. To help all its customers achieve these savings a variety of programs have been implemented.
Water efficiency audits
To help business customers reduce water wastage and lower overheads by lowering water and energy bills, the utility offers two types of water efficiency audits:
- Standard water efficiency audit : This is an assessment of ‘domestic’ water use on-site (toilets, taps, kitchens, and cleaning facilities). The aim of this audit is to identify opportunities for saving water and to quantify this in volumetric terms. A utility representative will review the customer’s current water consumption and help identify areas where efficiency gains can be made. Specifically, the audit entails:
- Making a general inspection of domestic water systems
- Analyzing meter readings to determine current consumption patterns
- Identifying site sub-metering opportunities
- Assessing the extent of leakage on-site
- Assessing urinal cistern control mechanisms
- Commenting on water management options
- Summarizing total water saving potential
- Process audit : The process audit is carried out by a Welsh Water industrial process engineer who will look at water consumption within the production and operational processes found on-site. The audit can be scaled to reflect the needs of each customer, but the key parts of the audit service include:
- Site walkover: An experienced engineer will carry out a detailed observation of on-site processes, identifying areas of high consumption or wastage, plus cost-saving opportunities
- Data analysis: A detailed site data analysis will be taken including efficiency correlation analysis, analysis of production, water, and effluent volumes, and, where appropriate, concentrations
- Mass balance: A site-wide balance will be created that shows unidentified losses and the costs of those losses
- Cost-benefit analysis: This will identify opportunities for cost-savings, showing pay-back periods and priorities by profitability
Welsh Water helping create water-efficient businesses
Installing temporary data loggers
To help businesses understand how much water they are using, Welsh Water can install temporary data loggers to monitor usage levels. The data loggers can be installed at one supply point or at several supply points across the customer’s network. By installing a logger Welsh Water can help customers:
- Understand when they are using high or low volumes of water
- Confirm whether there are leakages within the network
- Produce data that may be needed during any incidents, emergencies or changes in business activity
- Analyze their needs so they can plan for the future
Welsh Water can install water monitoring equipment enabling customers to track their site’s water usage. The equipment records information from the water meter and transfers it into flow data, which is then uploaded to a designated website to enable the monitoring of water flow and consumption. Users can then track water use graphically, enabling problems such as leaks to be quickly identified. In addition, an alarm function allows users to set and receive alarms when unusual flow levels are detected.
Mapping private networks
As a water infrastructure expert that manages over 30,000 km of water mains, Welsh Water offers its expertise to map internal and external networks. This service helps businesses:
- Quickly identify the source of any problems e.g. leaks
- Successfully deliver new or upgraded infrastructure by making sure all parties know the location of the network and how to connect to an existing water supply
- Minimize any disruptions caused by emergencies or ongoing issues within their water network
Water utilities can offer customized services for businesses to reduce water, wastewater, and energy bills.
*Robert C. Brears is the author of Urban Water Security (Wiley), The Green Economy and the Water-Energy-Food Nexus (Palgrave Macmillan), and of the forthcoming title Blue and Green Cities (Palgrave Macmillan). He is Founder of Mitidaption, which consults on climate change risks to business, governance, and society.