With water predicted to be in short supply in the coming years, it's essential that we all look at how we can improve our water use. Challenges such as excessive use and leakage put added pressure on the global supply. This is especially true of businesses. Statistics show that 88% of global water is used for commercial purposes (69% agriculture and 19% industries).
Tips on monitoring water use
To manage your water use sustainably, you can monitor and measure your use before deciding on how you might be able to improve things. It's important to gather the necessary data in a qualitative way so that you can make accurate decisions on savings.
Things you can do include:
- Leak detection – much water is lost through leaks, within EU member state countries as an example, a water loss due to leaks ranging from 7% to 50%. There are now methods and technologies available to enable both businesses and households to detect leaks.
- Monitor water use of individual users in the building – this is useful in commercial buildings where there may be multiple users. Some buildings may already use invoicing systems based on use in different parts of the building. Other methods include installing technology such as non-invasive ultrasonic flow meters that can be fitted to pipes.
- Monitoring peak use periods, daily variations and trends – regular checking and recording of water and flow meters will help you understand how your water is used across time.
- Benchmarking of water use – to properly understand usage figures, you can compare to other similar buildings (e.g. offices of similar size). Benchmarking is a tool to help businesses compare their performance and identify processes to reduce usage levels.
- Communication purposes – monitoring water use and its decline (by taking water-saving measures) can be of assistance in sensitizing residents, employees, colleagues, and all other stakeholders. Data can be used in communication campaigns to show the efforts that are taken actually have an effect. It helps soothe the mind and informs or helps engage everyone to collaborate and take action.
Once you have gathered enough qualitative data on your water usage, you can begin to identify water-saving opportunities based on information collected.
A water audit is a methodical analysis of the water use in your building to identify any inefficiencies and potential savings. It involves the rigorous collection and analysis of data that is then used to create a report and plan the way forward.
Water audits typically involve:
- profiling of current usage and costs. This is done by collecting data to establish a baseline that can be used to calculate potential reduction and savings. Information is gathered on all water and wastewater utilities at point of use, including taps, showers, washing machines, dishwashers, and any other household or industrial machinery that uses water.
- creating a “water balance” which compares the supply baseline to actual water use levels to identify water-saving opportunities in terms of both cost and environmental efficiency.
- identifying any technological improvements that could be made, for example, more efficient irrigation, lower pressure systems, better heating, ventilation and air-condition (HVAC) technology or more efficient cooling systems.
- safety improvements, such as systems that prevent legionella.
- The potential of rainwater (or wastewater) capture and reuse can be investigated in detail, which could significantly lower the overall water use.
The next step is drafting up an implementation plan based on the information collated in your water audit. This plan can be drawn up in different ways. An example plan could include:
- a timeline with a series of water-saving milestones or goals you want to achieve. Some of these may be achieving a reduction (e.g. leakage or peak-time usage), others might be a one-off measure (e.g. purchasing a piece of equipment to achieve higher efficiency)
- a clear description of what you intend to do in order to achieve each goal
- projected figures in terms of water use, costs, etc.
- for businesses, who are responsible for delivering each part of the plan
- monitoring of progress, which can be charted in periodical reports
- monitoring any impact of measures introduced
Water Experts can help you introduce effective water management processes to save money and reduce your water footprint. We can carry out a full water audit on your premises and help you develop a tailored implementation plan based on your specific situation and water-saving potential.