Water is now a scarce resource in many parts of the UK, to the point that many areas in England and Wales are considered to be under water stress.
Much of the media coverage about the need for water conservation has focused on either the water companies themselves or on domestic use, such as hosepipes. However it is important to remember that businesses are responsible for around a third of all water use in the UK, consuming 1300 million m3 of water every year1 , at an estimated cost of £1.58 billion2.
However, with mains, sewerage and trade effluent charges on the rise - businesses are literally pouring money down the drain by unnecessarily wasting water.
In some factories, for example, it is not uncommon for a hose to be left running to drain all day, which alone could cost a staggering £12,000 annually for each hose3 . Even a single dripping tap can waste up to 25 litres of water a day at a cost of more than £750 a year4.
And yet research has shown that businesses which have never previously addressed their water consumption can usually expect to make an immediate saving of between 20 and 50 per cent on water and effluent bills by implementing simple water management measures5.
So how does an organisation use water more efficiently?
A water balance is highly recommended to reveal precisely how, where and why water is being used across the all operations. It is based on the simple concept: what goes in must come out. The balance should contain a review of the patterns of water use, as well as wastewater discharges and routes to sewer. Once a water balance has been established and water use in each area is accounted for, water saving opportunities and projected cost-savings can be identified.
It makes sense to start with low-cost options that can achieve quick wins. For example, a staff awareness campaign can make sure people are more aware of how much water they are using. Addressing water use in the company washroom is a simple and effective first step for companies in any sector. Check the capacity of WC cisterns and fit cistern volume adjusters where appropriate, while a timer control or motion sensor on urinals can also save water (and money). It is also worth checking the company water system for leaks, as these can be very costly and cause considerable damage to a building. Companies may also consider looking at ways to re-use ‘grey water’ such as cleaning equipment, vehicles or outside areas.
To help companies take steps to realise potential savings such as these, WRAP has created a free online training tool to help you reduce water use and save money. The Rippleffect provides comprehensive support including online modules backed up by webcasts, case studies, telephone support and in-depth publications.
To find out more visit www.wrap.org.uk/rippleffect