May 2015 image1

For Californians, news of the current state of emergency around quickly depleting water reserves is never far from thought. From our digital highway marquees to daily coverage in our newspapers, we see constant reminders of California’s government urging residents to do their part in water conservation. On April 1st, the Governor’s office issued an Executive Order directing the State Water Resources Control Board to drive mandatory urban potable water usage down by 25% statewide. According to the Water Board’s website, the Board will make decisions this week on implementing active enforcement (possibly including rate restructuring, fines, and forcing lifestyle changes to many residents in the areas of elective water consumption).

While most of the attention is given to commercial, retail, and residential water users, the impacts to industrial users are slowly coming to light. Wright Process Systems has received calls and begun projects in the last month for some of our industrial food process customers to help devise plans and enact changes towards reducing water consumption within these plants.

The Water Board issued this Fact Sheet (PDF), which includes two key Q&As for industrial manufacturers:

Q: If a commercial or industrial business is using a private well, will it be required to cut water use?

A: Commercial, industrial and institutional (CII) properties with an independent water supply (not served by a water supplier) are required under the proposed emergency regulation to either limit outdoor irrigation to two days per week or achieve a 25% reduction in water use. Often, these properties have large landscapes that would otherwise not be addressed by this regulation.

Q: Will businesses and industry be required to reduce the amount of water needed for manufacturing and other purposes?

A: There are no specific percentage reductions assigned to any sector of a water supplier’s service area. Under the Proposed Emergency Regulation, each affected water supplier will be required to reduce its total potable water production by a specified percentage. Water suppliers will determine locally the actions that they will take to ensure that their commercial, industrial and institutional sectors are contributing to meeting these requirements and in what amounts. For many commercial, industrial, and institutional water users, we envision that the majority of their water savings would be achieved through a reduction in outdoor water use and improved efficiency.

As a manufacturer, the immediate question is: When will these issues affect me?
We have no indication right now of when conservation enforcement efforts will get to full speed on industrial users. The best answer as of now is to get prepared. Wright Process Systems can help.

Wright Process is launching a multi-issue campaign to assist our customers with this growing concern. In the upcoming issues of WPS Direct, we will cover the following topics:
  • June: Identify and explain unique solutions to water reduction in industrial food manufacturing plants
  • July: Identify and explain unique solutions to water recovery and reuse in industrial food manufacturing plants
  • August: Identify and explain ongoing solutions for monitoring, tracking, and improving water conversation programs in industrial food manufacturing plants
Later this month, Wright Process will also issue a white paper addressing a key comment in the Water Board’s Fact Sheet, which reads as follows:
Q: Will credit be given for investments in recycled water and desalination?

A: No credits are given for new sources of potable water supply during the drought emergency. Given the immediate need to extend our water resources, all attention is focused on reducing the use of potable water supplies, regardless of their source. Every drop of potable water saved today improves California’s ability to weather a possible fifth year of dry conditions. [Abridged]

Wright Process wants to clarify that in this context, recycled water refers to replenishing groundwater stores with treated water previously extracted. For industrial users, recycled water is usually defined as taking discharge water streams from a process or utility system that have already gone through one use, recovering, minimally treating, and reusing on a secondary system in place of new fresh water. This is a major opportunity and an ideal place to start with a plant’s water conservation efforts. Wright Process can help identify these opportunities, typically in a single-day onsite audit.

Californians and many others nearby and around the world are affected by this drought, and it is our joint responsibility to help address the issues brought on by this state of emergency. Through education, responsible management, environmentally conscious operations, and innovative engineering solutions, we can work together to do our part.