Reusing water means using less which means lower bills every month. There's nothing wrong with that. Also, by using less water, you also get to reduce wastewater.
Should Manufacturers Use Water Reuse Practices?
Emily Folk | Conservation Folks
As technology grows more advanced, big corporations look to ways we can use our resources more efficiently. One such resource is water. The supply of clean water isn't exactly vanishing, per se, but there are more limits. Some areas have more droughts while others get more floods, whether these are caused by climate change or something else. Regardless, companies consuming less water is better for all involved.
There are a few pros and cons to these practices that manufacturers should at least be aware of before making a final decision. However, the future won't come without change, even if that change may seem questionable on the surface. In this case, the idea is almost revolutionary.
Why You Should Consider Reusing Water
There are a lot of things listed in the pros column that's in favor of corporations reusing water. The most enticing reason is money. Reusing water means using less which means lower bills every month. There's nothing wrong with that. Also, by using less water, you also get to reduce wastewater.
The water stress ratio in the United States - meaning the total freshwater withdrawals to total renewable supply - is between 20 to 40%. According to the World Resources Institute, this is medium to high ranking, meaning that corporations in the United States are putting a strain on that area's water supply. By reusing water, the whole country's stress ratio could dramatically lower.
Concerns About Reusing Water
There are a few things people worry about when they start considering reusing water, not the least of which is safety. One of the industries that could benefit most from reused water is the food and beverage industry, which has every right to be hesitant towards the idea. However, there are different methods of treating the water that can make it safe for nearly all uses, except for black water which contains human waste.
Once you get beyond the science of treating the water, there are still a few more things to consider. The biggest issue is the initial financial investment to get the water treated in the first place. You would see a return in funds from reducing water usage but the return would take time to come in. There will also have to be modifications and upkeep to consider, not to mention a high level of trust with the company conducting the water treatment. Each of these problems would have to be considered before taking the dive, so to speak.
How to Treat Water
If you're a company thinking about reusing water, then one of the best ways to ensure health and safety is to know how other companies treat the water. The International Life Sciences Institute or ILSI put together The Water Recovery and Reuse Guide and made it available to all for just this reason. The guide goes through how to conduct audits, identify efficiencies that can be increased and how to develop a safe water plan for your situation.
The summarized version is that the two different recycled water types are high-end use and low-end used. Recycled high-end water is used for cleaning equipment and bottles which could potentially come in contact with food products. That's why high-end water is disinfected to the point of being drinking water meeting the standards of the World Health Organization. Low-end water is used for cleaning heavy-duty equipment like vehicles but still has to be safe enough for human exposure.
Make Recycling the New Normal
The more people and companies reuse their water, the more normal the practice will become. This isn't to say that we should stop questioning methods that are used to treat the water, though. Safe, drinkable water is important for everyone's health, and no company should be able to slip under the guidelines just because people become more comfortable with the idea. The more people are educated about reusing the water, the better off we all can be.
The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of ManufacturingTomorrow
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