Global climate change is the hot topic of our daily conversations these days. Drought stricken cities, groundwater depletion and storm water contamination are all challenges that will continue to be hotbeds of discussion. While we as individuals are concerned for our future of water and how it affects our daily lives, we often forget about the implications of water scarcity for our industrial needs and economic stability. Water is used in every facet of business. Industries that produce metals, wood, paper, chemicals, gasoline, oils, and most other products all use water in some part of their production process. I can’t think of an industry that doesn’t utilize water in some capacity. Industry depends on water, much like agriculture and domestic households depend on water. Industrial reliance on water makes it essential to preserve water in every aspect possible and make sure water pollution is kept at minimal levels.
Over the past decade, water treatment manufacturers have made huge technological strides that now make it possible to treat wastewater for variety of industrial reuse. Even in developing countries, industries are moving towards wastewater reuse and source separation. The treatment of separated effluents is also gaining more attention globally. Wastewater reuse potential in different industries depends on waste volume, concentration and characteristics, best available treatment technologies, operation and maintenance costs, availability of raw water, and effluent standards.
The reality is that we haven’t even begun to solve our challenges with water consumption, conservation and reuse but there are ways to begin to change the way we look at and consume water. According to a study put out by the EPA there are five top ways that industries can approach the way we utilize and change the way we use water in industrial applications.
Water reduction in the process (for example, less water consumed per unit produced)
Energy reduction in operations (addressing the “water cost of energy”)
Enhanced monitoring and automated control of water use Increased vigilance and control of indirect water consumption (for example, leaky pipes, running hoses, vehicle cleaning, dust suppression)
“Fitness-for-use,” which involves treating water and wastewater to the minimum needed for the specific purpose in an industrial process, including using water in progressively less demanding processes
Water reuse, which requires both energy and additional capital investment.
When looking at our water crisis now most can agree that it’s not going to get any better anytime soon. There are approaches that we must begin to look at as alternatives to the status quo. If our industries along with our communities can work together on water conservation and reuse initiatives we might have a fighting chance for the future.
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