Are you missing opportunities to reduce your water bill?

With the countdown to deregulation for English non-domestic customers well underway, delegates should explore how best to maximise the opportunities presented by switching suppliers and driving operational efficiencies.

Many edie Live visitors will already have been through a similar process with energy deregulation and so will have an idea what to expect. For those that haven’t yet caught up with water deregulation, our earlier blog provides an overview on who it applies to and what it means.

Apart from enabling 1.2 million English businesses to renegotiate the retail services element of their water and wastewater bill, deregulation is also a jumping off point for reducing water consumption and cutting water waste.

Until recently, it’s fair to say that when it comes to efficiency water has been the ‘forgotten utility’, with users focusing attention on critical operational requirements such as compliance, treatment and safety. By contrast, the primary term associated with energy is efficiency. And innovation isn’t far behind.

That these two utilities can be viewed so differently paints a very clear picture and is the result of historical market differences. But attitudes and responses are changing and I believe that the perception and delivery gaps will close quickly, thanks in part to the deregulation agenda.

As we approach the critical April 2017 date, costs, consumption and technologies are increasingly under the spotlight. But where should organisations be concentrating their efforts ahead of that time to gain maximum benefit?

Water audit

Water audits should be broad and consider supply, use, measurement, treatment, compliance, waste and disposal. For many this will be a step change as the focus is frequently on water management, treatment and compliance to meet essential regulations rather than efficiency of operation.

Prioritise and compare

The audit should be used to inform a set of prioritised recommendations, taking into account technology and market changes, regulatory requirements, cost, tax incentive schemes and funding opportunities, infrastructure, sustainability and wider business objectives.

From this broad approach, plant managers can compare the business cases associated with a range of interventions such as improvements to compliance programmes, alternative water sources, recycling and reuse, heat and energy capture and waste minimisation.

Comprehensive above compromise

An audit of this kind might sound onerous, but there is help available. Consultants and technology providers can help, but plant managers need to ensure that the service provided really meets their needs as there can be compromises.

For example, a water consultant will provide a valuable infrastructure and efficiency audit but will rarely take responsibility for delivery and results. By contrast, solutions providers will deliver change and take responsibility for the results achieved, but cannot provide objective, technology-neutral advice.

What will change look like?

While every location will be different, an example of a key area recommended for early review is industrial water recycling. This can be a real missed opportunity, with most only meeting the lowest regulatory requirements.

Reverse osmosis water treatment is also worth a second look as escalating water costs and improved technologies are making these systems increasingly viable. If you’ve previously dismissed them due to lengthy payback times, it might be time for a review. The cost profile has changed significantly.

Why bother?

For starters the business benefits include:

  • reduced direct water costs
  • associated energy savings
  • minimised consumption for both water and energy
  • improved sustainability and carbon savings
  • contribution towards CSR and water compliance objectives
  • delivery of BREAM requirements for new builds

For more advice on water savings and water deregulation, visit Minimise Water at edie Live on stand L24 or attend the ‘Strategies for effective water management seminar’ being held at 11:30am on 18 May in the Resource Efficiency Theatre.

Jon Wadley is water manager director at Minimise Water

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