Have You Assigned a True Cost to Water at Your Facility?Article | Leanne HerseyThere are many factors that come into play when planning corporat...Have You Assigned a True Cost to Water at Your Facility?
Article | Leanne Hersey
There are many factors that come into play when planning corporate policies surrounding water use. These range from simple things like literal water cost at one facility to complex issues such as planning for water security in the future across a global network of facilities. However, according to the Carbon Disclosure Project, industrial water users are realizing that defining the true cost of water is nuanced, to say the least. It’s no longer as straightforward as “cost per 1,000 gallons” as most industrial water users are familiar with. Water cost these days needs to account for everything from price of raw water, cost to treat wastewater, energy to move water or transport it and more.
What Is My Facility Doing Right and Where Can We Improve?
“When you take a broader look at the value of water, you look at reputational risk as well as supply dependability,” says Jason Morrison, program director of the Corporate Sustainability Program at Pacific Institute, a nonprofit that works with Fortune 500 companies on water solutions.
Due to the large volume of water that corporations use for absolutely critical applications, more and more seek their true cost of water. Getting to the bottom of this true cost starts with a water audit. Audits often reveal a drastically higher cost per unit of water – as much as 2.5 times more or higher.
In addition to the direct costs such as the price of water, operating costs and capital equipment costs - corporations performing water audits must also look at indirect costs like environmental fines, insurance premiums, legal costs and corporate social responsibility costs. Costs related to risks such as financial consequences of water shortages, flooding, financial (such as credit ratings and regulatory risks), and reputational risks should also be recorded.
Not having a firm grasp on these factors is a risk to your bottom line and your reputation. While it can seem costly, the water audit road (and subsequent work) is well worth it. And although it is not easy, there are many innovative tools and technologies to improve water use and water related procedures.
What Can I Do Next?
For those who are not equipped or not ready to engage in a full-scale water audit there are opportunities to reduce water risk and cost immediately. Starting with research on how others have used innovative solutions to save water or reduce risk is vital to understanding the bigger picture. One example that has received a lot of positive attention is this Steel Mill in Oklahoma saved over $3 million dollars per year and 60,000 gallons of water by implementing a newer form of water purification called Closed Circuit Reverse Osmosis. The project also led to the company exceeding sustainability goals and a fast Return on Investment. With a simple change in water purification technology, the steel mill saw drastic changes. Not all with be so straight forward, but the key is taking a first step.