This article is sponsored by HydroPoint
Onsite water management has long been an afterthought as most attention paid to water management is mostly focused on supply and treatment. However, ignoring onsite water, or the "last mile of the water network" as we like to call it, can be costly. In fact, nearly 9 trillion gallons of water are wasted each year across the water network, from supply to the last mile. With the UN forecasting a 40 percent gap in freshwater availability by 2030, it’s no longer economically, socially or environmentally feasible to ignore the last mile of the water network. So, what exactly is the last mile?
The water network is made up of three main components: supply, treatment and onsite water use. Supply and treatment happen in a relatively controlled and uniform ecosystem. Comparatively, the last mile of the water deals with the end-user. As such, that network is incredibly diverse, containing a multitude of stakeholders. The ecosystem is made up of a wide range of constituents, vendors and visitors with an unpredictable range of skills, weaknesses, motivations and honesty.
Due to a lack of water use visibility and long-held change-averse behavior, onsite water issues are the hardest to see before it is too late. Water has an uncanny ability to leak to where it can cause the most damage, often long hidden from view, only coming to attention after significant damage has already occurred. Water blindness can come at a significant cost as water leaks can have a domino effect and the resulting total cost may be astronomical.
Although there are many challenges to managing onsite water, harnessing the right combination of technology, people and domain expertise can eliminate water waste and save both businesses and the environment. This can be accomplished by fixing leaks, building infrastructure that is more sustainable and using technology that automatically detects leaks or breaks in the system.
One such technology system is HydroPoint’s WaterCompass. This system provides real-time intelligence on water usage and leak detection, giving property or facilities managers visibility from anywhere. By getting real-time alerts of an onsite leak, property managers can immediately start work on repairing the leak and ensuring that it does not become a massive water-wasting event. For example, most landscape irrigation occurs at night when very few people are present at a site. Should a leak occur, no one would be aware of it until the morning, leading to significant waste and potentially both brand and property damage. Using leak detection technology such as WaterCompass prevents these events from occurring as the system alerts as soon as a water leak begins. This also works for hard-to-reach out-of-sight places, as the technology allows for site managers to have visibility into the entire site’s water usage remotely.
Another form of technology that can lead to better onsite water management is a smart irrigation management system. WeatherTRAK smart irrigation controllers, flow products and cloud-based central management use real-time data to eliminate water waste and deliver operational savings. By using big data and the cloud to calculate weather data, users get all the benefits of site-specific weather data without all of the expense and single point of failure that maintaining an onsite weather station entails. Companies that have adopted this technology have seen 25 percent to 40 percent reductions in water usage and costs and see payback on their investments in 24-36 months.
Additionally, organizations can hire an onsite water manager to help them identify the best tactics to reduce water use. Very few companies actively employ a water manager, however, they play a valuable role in fighting water shortages and water conservation. Water managers design or implement programs or strategies related to water use efficiency and compliance issues if applicable. They can also show customers the water savings and money they can make by undertaking good onsite water management practices. For those companies looking to implement or bolster an ESG program, water managers can be your best friends. They consistently have a pulse on the latest in water savings measures, ensuring that organizations aren’t wasting the water that has been transported and treated at their sites.
Once organizations start looking at all the costs of unmanaged onsite water use — increased water bills, water leaks and property damages — they will realize the importance and urgency of managing their onsite water. Instead of incurring more costs each year because it is too difficult or time-consuming to properly manage their water usage, these sites represent opportunities to harvest water waste for substantial cost savings, using these savings for other parts of the business. Further, these organizations can increase their corporate water resiliency while achieving recognized ESG goals that benefit both the local community and the world. By better understanding the last mile of the water network and understanding the total cost of ignoring it, organizations can better set themselves up economically and operationally for the years ahead, while helping lead to a more sustainable future for the world.