WE&RF study examines economic, business value of water reuse

Water Sustainability

The Water Environment & Reuse Foundation (WE&RF) recently completed a study addressing industrial facilities’ struggles with pursuing the design, construction and operation of onsite industrial water reuse that also adheres to the strict financial payback requirements of the industry.

A Framework for the Successful Implementation of On-site Industrial Water Reuse (Reuse-14-04) evaluates opportunities for water reuse and conservation in industrial facilities using a Water Kaizen Blitz (WKB) method. The research team lead by Dr. Brian Moore and Dr. Mary Buzby of Arcadis sought to combat the notion that water is an inexpensive commodity and reinforce that water conservation and reuse have economic value and frequently a positive return on investment.

Case studies from PPG, General Motors, Coca-Cola Company and Ford Motor Company demonstrate the research results and economic return from implementing the WKB method to implement water conservation and reuse practices into their operations.

A Water Kaizen Biltz event examines reuse and reclamation projects as an economic benefit to business. The method focuses on water reduction in an industrial process, as well as supporting operations that use water. It encourages businesses to recognize opportunities at the water-energy nexus and consider how water and energy will affect decision making. The key components of this strategy involve developing a team structure, pre-planning and gathering data on the facility and identifying conservation opportunities.

Unlike a traditional audit, the WKB method requires a thorough understanding of the operations of the facility over a long period. This includes where water is used, the resulting waste streams and where those waste streams are discharged. It requires an understanding of the output of water at the site compared against a list of meter flow data to identify where measurement gaps exist.

The method demands that it is the team’s responsibility to identify opportunities for water reuse and reclamation projects, develop a complete accounting of costs and benefits, create an implementation schedule and estimated cost requirements for each potential project. The report provides guidance to identify the technologies available for wastewater treatment and determine the costs based on the treatment processes needed and the complexity and size of the facility.

The report also details case studies for facilities using the WKB process. For example, PPG’s facility in Batavia, Ill., cut wastewater generation by 25 percent and saved $40,000 in costs. At the start of conservation improvements in 2014, it was projected that PPG would save $489,000 after a two-year effort.

The report’s case studies demonstrate that water is a business issue and onsite reuse projects can link directly to financial savings. This project details how a Water Kaizen Blitz event can help companies identify the most efficient and cost-effective strategies for water reuse in a manufacturing and industrial facility, while incorporating the lessons learned from large companies like PPG. With a variety of technologies available, it is up the discretion of the facility team to decide what technologies best suit their needs.

This article was contributed by the Water Environment & Reuse Foundation (WE&RF). For more information, visit werf.org or click here to view the full study, A Framework for the Successful Implementation of On-site Industrial Water Reuse.

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