As water accessibility continues to shift and industry water shortages increase, most industrial facilities will need to adapt in some way. Water-intensive industries, in particular—such as the agriculture, food and beverage, and energy industries—will need to be the most resourceful, but the likelihood continues to increase that any industry could be affected. In areas where water shortages are already occurring, fees and regulations for manufacturers wishing to access local waterways have become more restrictive, and discharge regulations have, too, serving as an example to what likely lies ahead for manufacturing companies, in general, as water shortages continue to increase in number and spread out in location.
Since fresh-water access depends on a variety of factors, including the occurrence of droughts; access to aquifers, groundwater, or fresh water such as rivers or lakes; and whether these resources are being replenished quick enough to meet demands, etc., there is a unique set of circumstances for each industrial facility. Climate change and population growth are the main driving forces in this shift, and if industrial facilities want to thrive in the coming years, they need to adapt.
Taking all this into consideration, it’s important to know if your facility is ready to face a global or local water shortage. This article will discuss some general guidelines for assessing your facility’s readiness in addition to simple changes your facility can make to secure continued growth despite the environmental challenges that lie ahead.
Does your industrial facility have a water-shortage plan in place?
One way to gauge your facility’s readiness is to know that, in the case of industry water shortages in the area or location of the facility, there is a plan in place. It sounds simple—and it is—but assuming your facility won’t have to deal with water shortages won’t help if the situation arises, so have a plan in place should water sourcing become an issue in the area. Know how much water your facility needs to run, including manufacturing, rinsing, and employee use, etc. Also know how much water your facility discharges, and in what condition, so if the need arises, you can work with the local community and government to ensure you have what you need to make your product and even help replenish the source with treated wastewater, if possible.
Does your industrial facility know the current source-water regulations and how they might shift?
Being aware of and complying with your local water-source regulations can go a long way in avoiding large access and discharge fees, not to mention it’s the right thing to do. As an industrial facility, complying with these local regulations, and even going above and beyond where you can, shows good stewardship while keeping your facility in place of growth. Make sure your facility keeps on top of the regulations so it can comply and, when possible, anticipate any changes in these regulations so you’re not penalized and forced to deal with changes last minute. Typically, these changes happen over time and your facility should be given plenty of notice so they can be gradually implemented over time. But when in doubt, it’s best to be prepared as best as possible to avoid any unforeseeable fees and shutdowns.
Are you aware of the water demands of your supply chain?
If industry is impacted with water shortages as widespread as is being predicted, there is a chance that some of your material sources and other suppliers could be affected. Would you be able to source the product from another company? Could you manufacture it yourself? Know which are particularly water-intensive and where the facility is located so if their manufacturing capabilities are hindered, you have a backup plan.
Has your industrial facility assessed the condition of its piping and equipment?
Performing routine maintenance on your piping and equipment can help circumvent leaking, which can improve your facility’s water efficiency, overall, and alert you to any replacements or repairs that should be made. Also, assess whether your production chain can be more water efficient. Sometimes adjusting which steps could be adjusted or replaced by more efficient technology can yield more water savings than you think.
Is your industrial facility monitoring its water usage?
With technological advances in water monitoring, it’s become easier than ever to understand your facility’s water use habits. Water flow monitoring meters can alert operators to act when needed or by triggering automated shutoff mechanisms. Facilities that use cooling towers can particularly benefit from monitoring measures, including installation of overflow alarms, high-efficiency drift eliminators, and monitoring meters. All of these devices help facilities to track makeup and bleed volumes for cooling towers and make adjustments as necessary to curb water waste.
Is your facility utilizing available water-saving technologies?
With all the technological advances out there for decreasing water usage, is your facility making the most of them? Recycling wastewater and producing zero-liquid waste has become more common, in addition to using solar-powered plants, as in the case of many cutting-edge desalination facilities. Technological processes such as reverse osmosis, nanofiltration, UV filtration, and ion exchange have all contributed to more efficient industry. Making sure your facility has the latest technologies can simplify your process and increase its efficiency, ensuring your process is ready for tighter water constrictions down the line.
Can SAMCO help?
SAMCO has over 40 years’ experience custom-designing and manufacturing efficient water treatment systems for a range of industries and applications, so please feel free to reach out to us with your questions.
For more information or to get in touch, contact us here to set up a consultation with an engineer or request a quote. We can walk you through options for industrial water conservation solutions that fit your needs and maximize your return on investment.
Head on over to our blog to learn more about available water treatment technologies to help reduce industrial water consumption and prepare for water shortages. Some articles that might be of specific interest to you include: