The Sustainability Buzz

Why Your Company Should Care About Peak Water

Why Your Company Should Care about Peak WaterAfter energy, water may be the next big battleground. By now, most are familiar with the concept of peak oil,—running out of cheap oil—but peak water—running out of cheap water—should be a concern to businesses of all sizes throughout the U.S. To make matters more complicated, as more municipalities get on board with the concept of green stormwater management, stormwater run-off regulations for commercial properties are only going to get tighter.

If you’re a Philadelphia-based business, you’re going to start seeing your water bill increase starting in July 2010 because the Philadelphia Water Department will now bill separately for the burden your property places on the stormwater management system. Currently, customers are billed for stormwater management based on their metered usage, but the new system will bill customers based on the characteristics of their property—specifically, gross area and impervious area. (Impervious area is any area that prevents water from soaking into the ground.) The change will be phased in over a period of four years.

If you’re not based in Philadelphia, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be worried about your water consumption and stormwater management. Water costs are already beginning to rise throughout the U.S., which is why some of the smart companies, like Kraft Foods, have committed to reducing their water consumption substantially. From 2005 to 2008, they reduced their company-wide water usage by 21%, or 3 billion gallons, and exceeded their reduction goal two years early. They’ve now challenged their manufacturing facilities to find an additional 25% reduction in usage over the next few years. These reductions equate to substantial savings.

Many businesses have gotten on board with energy audits and understand that they are a stepping stone to realizing cost savings at their facilities. Have you considered a water audit in the same way? Mapping your water processes provides you with valuable information about how and where your water is used, as well as where there are opportunities to reduce your consumption and reuse water in your operations. Sometimes significant savings can be achieved by doing simple things like fixing leaks and rethinking the amount of water required for cleaning processes.

Additionally, a review of your stormwater practices can help your business identify how you can relieve some of the burden you place on the local water department, and some water departments will give you a credit for this. The side benefit to reducing your water usage is that it can reduce how much energy you use, too. For example, if you use less hot water in your daily operations, you’ll spend less money on the energy to heat that water, too.

There’s no time like the present to take a good look at your water usage and stormwater management programs, especially if you’re a Philadelphia-based business. iSpring can get you started through our iSpring GREEN program and help you realize savings through better water management practices.

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