Checklist: Water efficiency measures for industry

According to EPA, by implementing a water efficiency program, industrial facilities can cut operating costs in a variety of ways. Saving water also means cutting costs for electric power, gas, chemicals and wastewater disposal. In addition, efficient water use can have major environmental, public health and economic benefits by helping to improve water quality, maintain aquatic ecosystems and protect drinking water resources.

EPA offers this list of measures as a starting point for industrial facilities interested in improving water efficiency.

General management practices

Make a corporate commitment to water efficiency:

  • Designate a water efficiency coordinator.
  • Develop a mission statement and a plan.
  • Educate and involve employees in water efficiency efforts.
  • Inform your chemical suppliers or service contractors (cooling tower, laundry, dishwasher, landscaping) that water efficiency is a priority.

Equipment changes

High-efficiency plumbing fixtures, appliances and other equipment yield substantial savings on water, sewer and energy bills:

  • Install high-efficiency toilets, or retrofit water-saving devices on existing ones.
  • Install aerators on faucets and showerheads.
  • Install high-pressure, low-volume nozzles on spray washers.
  • Install in-line strainers on all spray headers; inspect nozzles regularly for clogging.
  • Replace high-volume hoses with high-pressure, low-volume cleaning systems.
  • As equipment wears out, replace with water-saving models.
  • Equip hoses with spring-loaded shutoff nozzles.

Operating and maintenance procedures

A small investment in these areas can yield big savings:

  • Detect and repair all leaks.
  • Identify discharges that may be re-used, and implement re-use practices. Some discharges with potential for re-use are:
    • final rinses from tank cleaning, keg washers, fermenters
    • bottle and can soak and rinse water
    • cooler flush water, filter backwash
    • pasteurizer and sterilizer water
    • final rinses in wash cycles
    • boiler makeup
    • refrigeration equipment defrost
    • equipment cleaning
    • floor and gutter wash
  • Use fogging nozzles to cool products.
  • Adjust overflows from recirculation systems by controlling the rate at which make-up water is added: install float-controlled valve on the make-up line, close filling line during operation, provide surge tanks for each system to avoid overflow.
  • Turn off all flows during shutdowns. Use solenoid valves to stop the flow of water when production stops.
  • Adjust flow in sprays and other lines to meet minimum requirements.

This article originally appeared in the 03/01/2005 issue of Environmental Protection.

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