Water security is a huge global problem that affects the industrial sector as much as it affects smaller businesses. The environmental reporting charity, CDP, monitors water security. In its 2020 Global Water Report, it concluded that: “the cost of inaction on water risks is up to five times the cost of action. With huge business opportunities to seize, companies need to rethink their strategies and transform their business models to build a water-secure world.”

Why it’s important for the industrial sector to be mindful of water quantity

Climate change and population growth pose a danger to our water supplies. The dangers posed by the industrial sector are from over-abstraction during times of water scarcity and from the release of contaminated wastewater into the environment. These will have knock-on effects on the local environment and agriculture, as well as on the supply of potable water for human consumption.

In an address to the Royal Society Conference in advance of the COP26 summit, Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency, issued some stark warnings. “Hotter drier summers and less predictable rainfall – two effects of a changing climate – plus over-abstraction of water for industry, agriculture and the public water supply as the population grows, is a toxic combination.

“It means that if we don’t take action, by 2050 the amount of water available in England could be reduced by up to 15%; that some rivers will have up to 80% less water in summer; and that we will need around 3.4 billion extra litres of water a day to meet the needs of people, industry and agriculture.”

Sir James pointed out that while we focus attention on water quality, we also need to have water quantity as a vital driver in our actions. He stated, quite frankly, that while having good quality is essential, our very existence depends on having the right quantity of water.

Why it’s important for the industrial sector to be mindful of water quality

Industrial effluent and wastewater need to be managed carefully so they don't overwhelm the sewerage system, as this results in contamination of the environment. Many industries treat their own effluent before releasing it into the drainage system as it is cheaper than paying water companies to do it for them. It is, obviously, hugely important that the quality of industrial wastewater does not adversely affect the environment.

What can the industrial sector do about water security?

It’s very clear that everyone has a duty of care when it comes to the security of the water supply, and the industrial sector is no exception. After agriculture, the industrial sector is one of the largest water users, and there are many ways of decreasing the amount of water used.

There are a number of water efficiency measures the industrial sector can implement to save a significant amount of water, with a subsequent fall in associated utility bills. These include:

  • recycling greywater to flush toilets and clean vehicles and yards
  • using water-saving devices for sinks and toilets
  • using shut-off nozzles on hosepipes
  • fixing leaks as soon as they occur

One of the most effective ways to save money on your water bills is to install a water meter submitting regular meter readings to help monitor your usage. By understanding what your normal water usage is, it’ll be easier to detect hidden leaks on your premises - which could save your business thousands of pounds in the long run.

Find out how we saved one of our multi-site customers an estimated £250,000 per year on their water bill.

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