Water conservation is critical to sustaining our natural water resources and environment. It is also critical to energy conservation. The energy costs of water are often forgotten since the treatment and transportation processes associated with water and wastewater take place away from our homes, places of work and even towns or cities. Water treatment processes are energy intensive and result in carbon emissions. Reducing water consumption can therefore help combat climate change.
Some SMEs, which use industrial processes, are losing energy through inefficient use of water and steam, with heat energy passing into the atmosphere through stacks or being pumped into rivers or the sea. This energy can be saved through conservation and simple measures to improve manufacturing processes. This will lead to more efficient systems, the consumption of less energy and less carbon emissions.
What to do
The following will help your business to reduce its impact on climate change:
- Reduce the amount of water used by your organisation and therefore the amount of wastewater leaving your organisation;
- Reduce the amount of energy expended on water processes;
- Reduce the amount of heat energy lost through water.
How to do it
Below is a brief 5-point plan to help address water conservation in your organisation. It is important to note that since water use is site-specific, a comprehensive strategy would need to be tailor made for each location.
- Involve – The participation of everyone at your organisation is key for water conservation to be successful. This can be achieved through education and involving the entire workforce, using their ideas and maybe even rewarding the very effective ones.
- Assess – Water use throughout your organisation should be analysed and quantified, with details such as the amount of water used per week or month, where water is used and potential leakage points. This should also include details of wastewater exiting your business.
- Plan – With knowledge of water use and wastewater, specific methods for reusing and reducing water and energy can be drawn up in the form of a Water Management Plan.
- Implement – Each body or premises will have its own specific uses of water and therefore their own methods to improve efficiency. This could involve, for example, collecting water after one process for use in another, recovering some of the heat energy in waste or reducing the amount of water used.
- Record – Detailed water records should be kept of all water used and also where savings are made. This will allow the most effective methods of water and energy conservation to be identified and possibly applied to other areas.
Water Conservation Tips
- Use Tap Aerators – These produce a bubbly stream and can reduce the amount of water you use by as much as half.
- New Equipment – Replace worn out or broken equipment with systems that use water efficiently.
- Canteen Conservation – Turn off any unnecessary flows and equipment when not in use and ensure water pressures and flows are set at minimum required settings.
- Cleaning – Sweep and scoop rather than hose and provide enough receptacles to collect solids. Water used in general cleaning can be as much as 10% of all water used in some work places.
- Eliminate Automatic Flushing Cisterns – Turn off all unnecessary cisterns particularly in schools and toilet blocks and replace with water efficient devices.
- Window Cleaning – Change the window-cleaning schedule from "periodic" to "as required".
- Create staff awareness initiatives about the forthcoming water metering to ensure that they understand the new laws and are attempting to reduce water usage and wastage.
- Install filters on the canteen taps, which will encourage people to drink tap water, rather than bottled. Cost will be reduced, as water delivery services will no longer be needed.
- Ensure that the maintenance team in the building is up-to-date on energy saving tips. Remind them that dripping taps waste water and that every effort should be made to fix these as quickly as possible
For more see the Irish Water website's conservation page.
Water and Energy Saving
Since using water consumes energy it is worth using the links and energy saving programs mentioned above in the energy section and applying these methods and measures to water and energy conservation. Click here for the energy section.
Local authorities are ultimately responsible for the provision of potable water and maintenance of the supply network. With the support of the Department of the Environment, Community & Local Government many local authorities have implemented their own water conservation programmes. For information on water conservation or water metering contact your relevant Local Authority.
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