We often tend to think of saving water at home, but huge amounts of water can be saved in business and industry.
Water consumption at work is often high as it can be taken for granted, but by saving water you are contributing to a more efficient and sustainable workplace.
Did you know?
- For every Queenslander, 125 litres of treated water are used each day in workplace environments. That amounts to 14 household buckets per person per day or 20% of our total water usage.
- A running tap uses 20 litres per minute.
- A 10-minute shower uses up to 200 litres.
- A leaking tap can waste about 45 litres of water a day.
- A running hose wastes 1,000 litres per hour.
- Sprinklers use 1,500 litres of water per hour.
In most workplaces, a 20% reduction in water use is easily achievable.
Major savings can be made by simply improving water-use practices, and by employers installing a range of water efficient devices and appliances.
This can result in major cost savings including:
- Reduced water charges.
- Reduced on-site wastewater treatment costs.
- Reduced trade waste charges.
- Reduced energy and fuel costs associated with water use.
Where do we use water in the workplace?
Most water is used by business and industry in the following areas:
- Production: Cooling water, process water, and boiler feed.
- Amenities: Toilets, showering, washing, air conditioners and outdoors.
- Outdoors: Landscape irrigation, dust suppression, wash-down areas.
- Indoors: Cleaning, food and drink preparation.
The top five areas where water is wasted
- Inappropriate overuse of water for wash down.
Solution: Use high pressure, low volume sprayers to handle waste materials. Waste should be removed in dry mode first, where possible. Use recycled water where possible.
- Poorly managed irrigation equipment.
Solution: Make sure irrigation equipment delivers water evenly. Install moisture overriders or tap timers on the irrigation system to prevent over-watering.
- Using water for dust suppression.
Solution: Use drought-tolerant plants to bind soil and screen dusty areas. Material such as paper mulch can be used to cover areas susceptible to erosion (the mulch can be easily removed as required).
- Bad seals or faulty valves on taps/pipes/pumps.
Solution: Often this problem cannot be easily seen and will go undetected for a long time. The best option is to conduct regular water audits and track where the water is going.
- Inefficient and poorly maintained methods for cooling.
Solution: Use fogging nozzles to cool products instead of running mains water, and turn these systems off when equipment is not in operation.
Saving water in the workplace
- Audit your workplace to see where water savings can be made.
- Read your water meter(s) weekly to monitor water consumption trends.
- Make water efficiency a part of your workplace practices.
- Ask employees for their ideas on how to reduce water use within the workplace.
- Provide education to your employees about the significance and benefits of saving water.
- Encourage employees to adopt water saving procedures.
- Include information on water conservation plans and development in staff meetings.
- Make sure all employees know where your business is saving water; use charts and graphs to show this and draw attention to areas that need improvement.
- Put posters and stickers around the workplace, to remind staff of ways to save water.
Air-conditioning and water heating
- Cooling towers use large quantities of water. Evaporation, drift and bleed-off account for the water loss in cooling towers. The running time and level of air-conditioning, as well as the amount of bleed-off, are the areas to investigate to reduce water usage. Up to 30% of losses can be conserved through proper monitoring and maintenance of water quality.
- Consider using heat exchange units rather than cooling towers, as they use less water and energy. Ensure that cooling towers bleed off by conductivity rather than with a fixed outlet. Consideration should be given to air-cooled rather than water-cooled air-conditioning systems.
- Piping hot water over long distances results in significant heat loss. Large quantities of water are lost flushing cold water out of the system. Where possible, pipes should be insulated and water heaters installed close to the draw-off points. The opportunity exists to transfer heat from air-conditioning systems to hot water systems such that much, if not all, of the energy required to heat water can be saved.
Kitchens and lunchrooms
- Wait until the dishwasher is full before turning it on. This will save water and energy, plus decrease the amount of detergent entering the sewer system.
- Rinse dishes in a plugged sink, rather than under a running tap. This saves water and is just as simple and effective.
- Try to only wash dishes in the sink once a day.
- Remember that what you put down the drain can cause blockages and pollutes our environment. Clean the lint filter on washing machines and use a sink strainer.
- Replace worn washers or report leaking taps to your maintenance section for repair.
- Taps that use ceramic disks instead of conventional washers can be turned on and off quickly and are not prone to leakage, thus saving water.
- Single-lever taps allow quick temperature control.
- Aerators improve water-stream performance and can be used in conjunction with a flow controller.
- Electronic sensor-activated taps operate when a sensor beam is broken and allow hands free operation.
- Install AAA-rated low flow taps or tap aerators to help save water.
- Water-efficient showerheads can reduce water use by up to 50 percent
- Individual shower cubicles also encourage lower water usage than large or open shower areas where heat is dissipated more quickly.
Toilets and urinals
- Faulty automatic flushing systems in urinals are a common cause of water wastage. Electronic sensor-activated systems programmed to respond differently to light and heavy loads are the best choice in terms of hygiene and water efficiency. Research shows partitions between individual urinals will encourage their use rather than the toilet.
- Install and use water-efficient urinals rather than a toilet. Old style toilets can use up to 12 litres of water per flush compared to 2 litres for an individual urinal. Waterless urinals are also now available. Where toilets are required, the 6/3 litre dual flush toilet is becoming the standard throughout Australia.
Cleaning, sanitation and washdowns
Look for ways to minimise water usage, such as modifying an existing process to use less water.
- Use a broom instead of a hose to sweep down production areas and pathways. Remember putting pollutants into the storm water system is illegal, and penalties and fines apply.
- Use hoses with trigger or shut-off nozzles.
- Install water efficient appliances and fixtures.
- Turn off equipment that uses water when it is not in use.
- Use a bucket to wash and rinse where possible, instead of running the taps or hose.
- Make sure fire hoses are not used for wash down. Using these hoses, if there is no fire, is illegal and carries large on the spot fines. Fire hoses also use large quantities of water.
- Replacing automated spray rinses with immersion rinses can reduce water consumption by as much as 60%.
- Significant amounts of water are used for sterilising and the cleaning of ingredients and containers. Sterilisers that use reticulation as part of the process are now available and eliminate much of the water consumption in these machines.
Rinse water can be recycled by using sequential rinsing provided contaminants are not a problem.
- Recycled water from process flows can be used for the cooling tower make-up water (this water may require treatment).
Pressure and flow reduction
Higher than necessary pressures increases water consumption and can lead to leakage.Pressure-reducing valves can reduce maintenance requirements, enhance the operation of water appliances and conserve water. The flow of water through showers and taps can be reduced using flow control devices.
Outdoors and landscaping
- Install tap timers and water the roots instead of the foliage.
- Use a trigger nozzle on your hose.
- Plant hardy vegetation which does not require large amounts of water.
- Reduce areas of turf.
- Install properly designed irrigation systems.
Recycled non-potable water supplies can be used in:
- Parks, gardens and lawn cemeteries
- Golf courses, racecourses and sporting fields
- Dust settlement
- Ornamental lakes and artificial wetlands
- Industrial waters, particularly cooling towers
- Vehicle washing
- Coal washing
- Cleaning of certain areas (provided health considerations are met)
- The reuse of treated wastewater in industry may be possible in some situations
This will be most economical for industries close to Townsville Water's sewerage treatment plants or treated effluent discharge pipelines.
Tertiary treated wastewater is adequate for cooling tower make-up water, as long as the tower is operated at a low concentration ratio.
For more information, please contact the Customer Service Centre or send an email to Townsville Water.