Water Conservation: What Industry Can Do

Water Conservation at home and in the office is possible and often very easy.

One of the best ways companies can begin to deal with growing water challenges is by simply investigating ways to use water more efficiently. This is often far less costly and difficult than organizations realize.

For instance, in one North American city, the water utility company targeted 120 families who seemed to be using more water than similar families living in similar homes. They found that many of these homes had older toilets, showerheads, and faucets that use more water than newer systems. The utility company replaced the toilets in these homes, as well as installing very inexpensive aerators, which restrict how much water is released per faucet and showerhead. These changes resulted in a 50 percent reduction in water usage in these homes—far more than was expected.

Commercial facilities, schools, churches and many other locations can make similar changes, producing significant results. Some ways this can be accomplished include the following:

  • Replace all water-using toilets with high-efficiency models, which use less than 1.6 gallons of water per flush, exceeding current regulatory standards in the U.S. and other parts of the world.
  • Faucets do not necessarily need to be replaced. Newer faucets dispense 2.2 gallons to 2.5 gallons per minute. This amount can be cut by as much as 40 percent by installing aerators which are surprisingly inexpensive.
  • While low-flow urinals are now available, the use of no-water or waterless urinals as well as valves that can turn a water-using urinal to a no-water urinal are also growing in popularity, mainly because these fixtures do not require costly water connections (as do low-flow systems), nor do they have the service requirements of conventional urinal systems. The typical urinal can use as much as 40,000 gallons of water per year.
  • Conduct water audits to determine exactly how much water is being used now, where it is being used, and where it can be reduced or used more efficiently
  • Develop a water reduction strategy; identify areas where water consumption can be reduced now, in six months, or in one year. Also, prioritize steps based on which are most cost effective that can be implemented in the shortest amount of time with the greatest impact
  • Natural landscaping should be employed; vegetation that is natural to an area often uses less water