Water may not be the resource that comes to mind when you hear the popular phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle”. However, at the industrial level, water, like more tangible resources such as plastic and paper, can be reused.
Once water has been used in the manufacturing process, it can be effectively treated to remove all contaminates and reused. Water can be treated to meet varying standards based on the reuse application. Industrial water reuse opportunities include fire hydrants, toilet flushing, crate and vehicle washing, landscape irrigation, floor washing and more. On-site treatment of wastewater for reuse allows manufacturers to withdraw less water from the available supply, without sacrificing operational standards.
Why Consider Water Reuse?
Industrial water withdrawal costs have increased in recent years, partly due to a decreasing global water supply and increasing demand for fresh water. From 1996 to 2012, municipal water withdrawal rates increased 11.7 percent. Experts anticipate water rates will continue to increase over the next few years as utilities face costs associated with aging water infrastructure.
In addition to increased costs, manufacturers are faced with stricter water withdrawal and discharge regulations. Industrial users may soon face water rationing. In fact, some manufacturers are already facing local regulations limiting the amount of water available for their use.
Water reuse helps manufacturers not only use water cost-effectively, but sustainably as well. With less water withdrawn from the municipal supply, effective water reuse systems provide savings on facility water bills and the efficient, sustainable reuse of water.
“Water managers should also consider non-monetary costs and benefits of reuse projects, such as increased water supply reliability in times of drought, greenhouse gas emissions, and ecological impacts, to determine the most socially, environmentally, and economically feasible water supply option,” according to The National Academies publication “Understanding Water Reuse.”
Water conservation through reuse is particularly important for food and beverage manufacturers as large amounts of water are used in the production process as well as an ingredient in the final product. According to one study, water recovery and efficient use can reduce water used per liter of beverage by up to 40 percent.
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