It is true that water has long been a forgotten utility. It was inexpensive. It was perceived to be plentiful. The average facility in Kenya utilizes almost triple the amount of water than is necessary. Most of that is not an issue of belligerently wasting water, but simply a lack of knowing how much water the processes need, how efficient the pumping and distribution systems are, and how to control the balance.
Ten years ago when energy conservation became an important issue in Kenya, many facility owners responded by removing fluorescent lamps and replacing them with compact fluorescent lamps (commonly referred to as energy savers in Kenya) and recently LEDs are considered as the most efficient lighting system.
Such ‘quick win’ strategies did produce much energy savings as other avenues of energy conservation that involved a certain level of capital investment were ignored. The ‘ignored areas’ with even greater energy-saving potential went unaddressed simply because they were either misunderstood or overlooked. Nevertheless, to produce more savings than could be achieved through quick win cutbacks, facility managers invested in energy audits. The energy audits proved to be one of the most effective tools towards energy management.
An energy audit is an effective tool towards identification and quantification of energy savings as it gives the steps that can be taken to reduce energy consumption. More importantly an energy audit gives facility managers a detailed assessment and analysis of how energy is used in their facilities.
Similarly, the same process is required in the world of today so that water usage can be reduced without necessarily affecting the operations.
What is Water Audit?
Just like energy audits, water use audits are an important first step towards understanding water usage in a facility and give directions on how to reduce water usage.
- This entails tracing water usage from its point of entry into a facility through to its discharge into the sewerage system.
- Our auditors are tasked with identification of each point of water usage within and around the facility, as well as estimation of the quantities of water used at each section. They identify and quantify any unaccountable water and leaks. Thereafter, they provide the facility owns/managers with a road map of potential savings and associated costs of implementation.
- Water use audits should also take into account the water quality. Recycling of water and rain water harvesting are among the main ways through which huge water savings can be realized. Also, through water audits, potential uses for alternative sources of water can be identified.
- A comprehensive water use audit will assess all of the major areas in which a facility uses water, including maintenance, sanitation, mechanical systems, irrigation, building processes and manufacturing processes.
- The audit provides a breakdown of where, how and when of the water usage.
Steps in Water Use Management
- Step 1: The Water Use Inventory: It is important that facility executives develop an understanding of exactly how and where their facility uses water. To do this, an inventory of all water use points in the facility with flow rates must be developed.
- Step 2: Metering:Tracking water meter readings will provide a baseline of water use for the facility. The key to gaining useful information from submeters is to have the meters read on a regular basis, and as frequently as possible. Frequent readings help to quickly identify and locate leaks.
- Step 3: Review Maintenance Practices: Preventive maintenance programs have long been recognized as effective tools for improving system performance while reducing overall operating costs. With water use historically being an ignored or low priority item, chances are few preventive maintenance steps have been put in place to specifically address water use.
- Step 4: The Water Efficiency Plan: Once information has been gathered on how water is being used in the facility, an action plan can be established for reducing water use. The plan should identify who will take responsibility for implementation. It should make certain that individual has the authority and support needed to implement the plan.
Benefits of Water Audits
- Reducing water use in a facility is a win-win situation.
- Using less water means lower utility costs.
- It also means reduced chemical treatment costs in systems such as boilers and cooling towers.
- Finding and eliminating long-standing leaks can create a better work environment for building occupants, as well as reduce damage to building components.
- Reducing water use can also enhance the public image of a facility.
- Facility executives should publicize the program’s successes and give credit to those involved.
- Even something as simple as installing moisture sensors on an irrigation system can improve the facility’s image. Consider how many times you have seen an irrigation system operating in the rain. What impression of the facility did it leave you with?