World Water Day - How to Apply the 3 Pillars at Your Facility

Author: Patrick Kehoe

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Author: Chris Ford

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Breaking the Ice

Water Scarcity Concept

Water. H2O. You know how important it is but what you might not realize is how scarce it really is. Notice the three blue spheres in this image. The large sphere on the left represents the volume of all of the world’s water. The smaller ball to the right represents the volume of the total fresh water on the planet. Now, can you see that really small blue dot below that? That tiny spec represents the total volume of fresh water that is readily available for the entire world. Approximately 56 km (35 miles) across, this tiny sphere represents all of the clean, usable water on the planet.

That’s not a lot of water.

Background

March 22nd, 2017 marks the 24th Annual World Water Day. First observed in 1993, World Water Day was created to help an increasingly global population become more protective of our global water supply by upholding the United Nation’s philosophy on water source protection. The 3 pillars of World Water Day represent a commitment to:

  1. Conserve Water
  2. Protect Water Sources from Pollution
  3. Raise Awareness of Water’s Role in a Day-to-Day Life
As individuals responsible for operating heating and cooling applications that consume large amounts of water, we must apply this philosophy to our decision-making process.  Including these pillars in day-to-day operational decisions, we can preserve and protect this increasingly scarce resource.

By supporting the guiding principles of World Water Day, we can create healthier communities and a healthier world.

Putting the Three Pillars to Work at Your Facility

1. Conserve Water

A major obstacle with water conservation is that it is hard to see the effect of your actions – either to physically perceive the impact or to experience significant bottom-line savings since water is still relatively inexpensive in many municipalities. It’s not like a compost or recycling bin where you see your trash diversion on a daily basis. But that doesn’t make it any less important and it certainly shouldn’t stop us from implementing water saving initiatives.

The best first step to discovering water saving initiatives is to meter and monitor the amount of water your facility consumes – make it visible.
Water Cycle

Another important part of water conservation that is often overlooked is that water is required to create the energy that powers your facility. Conventional power plants that generate electricity using coal, natural gas, petroleum, or nuclear fuel rods require large volumes of cooling wateras part of the thermoelectric power cycle. The use of water in heat rejection for electricity production accounts for an estimated 38% of freshwater withdrawal in the United States each year, second only to irrigation.

So, if we save water: we save water; and if we save energy: we save water too!

2. Protect Water Sources from Pollution

Having the right amount of water, of the right quality, at the right location, and at the right time is crucial to the success of many facilities.

Considering that an average of 60-70% of the energy input into electricity generation is rejected, site energy consumption can put a serious strain on local water resources and aquatic habitats. Pursuing energy efficiency projects in your facility will help protect the surrounding community’s water resources and your bottom line.
Water Consumption
Constriction of the capacity of downstream municipal WWT plants has led to a rise in sewer charges and tightening of discharge requirements in many communities. Ensuring that excellent water chemistry is maintained in process water systems and diligent monitoring of effluent water quality can help mitigate the risk of fines or surcharges.

Additionally, many municipalities offer sewer rebates for the portion of water consumed on site that is not sent to drain, such as cooling tower evaporation.  Check with your local water treatment provider for more information on sewer rebates in your area.

3. Raise Awareness of The Importance of Water

Many global water scarcity and contamination-related issues are not the result of one major offender. Rather, they often occur from the accumulation of multiple smaller sources of water consumption and pollution. Accordingly, small actions can make a big impact.

Simple actions such as signage and operator training can greatly improve awareness of water’s vital role in your plant. Preventative maintenance on equipment such as pump seals is one of many easy fixes that can save an incredible amount of water in your plant. In addition to in-house solutions, you can also seek out other thought-leaders in your community for guidance on effective conservation efforts.

A partnership with a local water-centric organization is one such option for raising awareness of the importance of water and demonstrating leadership in your community.

Ultimately, the costs of providing and consuming clean water are shared by individual citizens and businesses alike through taxation and surcharges. Identifying, communicating and implementingopportunities that improve the sustainability and resource efficiency of your facility represents a true win-win for your balance sheet and your community.

Conclusions

Ensuring that excellent water chemistry is maintained in industrial and commercial water systems is an important step in improving efficiency throughout your operation – creating cost savings and reducing your facility’s impact on our most precious resource. Talk to your water treatment expert about opportunities for efficiency improvements and make a positive impact today.

When you incorporate the pillars of World Water Day into the operational practices and guiding philosophies of your plant you become part of a global movement that is already making waves.

To learn more about the UN World Water Day campaign, visit http://www.unwater.org/campaigns/world-water-day/en/

Patrick Kehoe has a Chemical Engineering degree from the University of Western Ontario. As a Water & Energy Manager, he works with clients to achieve the lowest operational costs for their heat transfer systems through well-maintained water treatment programs. Additionally, Patrick considers himself quite the tea connoisseur.

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Chris Ford has a degree in Chemical & Materials Engineering from the University of Kentucky and a Master’s degree in Sustainable Systems Engineering from the University of Wisconson-Madison.

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