Commercial Water Consumption: Winning the Battle for Mindshare

Ken Holiday
ClientSurveyGraphic2015_updatedAs commercial water costs continue to rise, energy, sustainability, facility, and finance professionals are taking notice—and taking action.Adding to the collective conscience of commercial water consumers, 2014 brought one of the worst droughts in U.S. history to California, chalking up $2.2 billion in statewide economic costs in its wake, according to the UC Davis Center For Watershed Sciences. Extreme and exceptional drought conditions stretched across swaths of Arizona, Idaho, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Texas as well.

As a result, water consumption regulation efforts have intensified, and commercial businesses continue to see volatility in the water rates they pay. In addition to its weather-related scarcity, water costs are rising as:

  • Municipalities foot the bill for the expensive repair and upkeep of our nation’s aging water infrastructure;
  • The costs of the electricity, chemicals, and fuel used to supply and treat our water rises;
  • Water suppliers invest in compliance with federal and state clean water mandates and initiatives;and,
  • Water suppliers invest in increased security infrastructure to protect water resources.

This combination of factors leads us to once again predict an increase in water prices in 2015. As these costs are felt by industries, awareness of water usage, its conservation, and its management is quickly growing. Findings from Ecova’s freshly-released 2015 Energy and Sustainability Predictions report underscore the surging importance of water efficiency and conservation among industrial and commercial water consumers.

Our second annual survey of more than 500 North American energy, sustainability, facility, and finance professionals measured a 10 percent increase in those who view water as an area with the greatest opportunity for savings and improvement. While energy cost and efficiency remains the top concern of U.S. industry, water is the fastest-climbing concern in our survey—topping the list of concerns for a full 70 percent of respondents—and for good reason. Average national water costs have increased dramatically over the past decade, more than doubling in many areas of the country. For example, annual water costs for companies with locations in Nebraska, New York, Illinois, Oregon, Washington DC and Georgia, as well as nearly 20 other states, all doubled from 2008 to 2013.

As water rates rise, businesses are subject to detrimental impacts on profitability at the hands of unnecessary consumption or undetected leaks. Mitigating that risk—and the added pressure it puts on your operations team—requires data-based insight into your water usage and a strategic approach to managing water consumption. This typically includes:

  • Assessing and implementing operational and equipment opportunities;
  • Integration of water consumption and cost analysis associated with new building designs and operational practices;
  • Proactively monitoring for unusual consumption associated with leaks or operational differences (on an ongoing basis); and
  • Utilizing an accurate budgeting process around water expenses.

When water consumption is closely monitored and managed, businesses realize an opportunity to not only reduce costs, but to enjoy the financial benefits of water efficiency incentives to support capital investments. Organizations that place a high value on budget predictability also benefit from active monitoring of water consumption for potential leaks, as their early detection and correction is an important part of managing water consumption and costs expectations.

Ecova’s Water Management solution assists organizations with the holistic management of their water and wastewater bills. This foundational activity allows us to monitor and report on water consumption and wastewater discharges, creating an accurate and living data repository on your water footprint. With sophisticated analytical tools, Ecova’s facility auditors can quickly identify both water usage anomalies and identify exemplary water efficiency practices for implementation within your organization. Collectively, our technology and expertise helps organizations make informed capital investment decisions, change water consumption behaviors, and measure the impact of that change through lower water usage and cost.

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