Water Online

September 2017

Water Innovations gives Water and Wastewater Engineers and end-users a venue to find project solutions and source valuable product information. We aim to educate the engineering and operations community on important issues and trends.

Issue link: https://wateronline.epubxp.com/i/861825

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Page 24 of 38

By Deonta Smith O ne of the most indispensable utility resources in the U.S. is the water supply. Consequently, developing and coordinating programs that will provide some degree of water conservation is essential. The nation's demand for water has increased over the past decade, as households and businesses continue to depend on a reliable, clean supply of water for drinking, agriculture, industrial production, and other high-volume applications. One solution relating to water efficiency is the use of process water. Process water — an emerging alternative to traditional water supply consumption — is the supply of treated or recycled fresh water from an owned source, or surface water from a nearby river that is purified by the users' upstream filtration system. In many industrial and commercial processes, the use of process water allows businesses to increase water consumption without shrinking the nation's water supplies. Moreover, process water is likely to be less contaminated than the water sourced from public distribution systems, which can pick up lead and other contaminants from aged pipes. Though outsourcing process water has been cost-effective for end users, suppliers have been met with heightened production costs as strengthening demand has prompted upstream suppliers to raise the price of inputs. This trend has been causing the price of process water to rise during the past three years. As a result, users are currently facing a dilemma where they must decide whether to continue procuring from existing producers or begin producing process water in-house. Prioritizing Conservation And Purification The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. EPA have found that the average annual rainfall has been declining consistently since 2007. The EPA attributes this trend to climate change and expects that water supplies will continue to shrink as a result. In response to the EPA's findings, public and private water supply distributors have sought to curb the nation's water consumption by raising prices. However, in spite of increased water utility prices, the use of water supply has steadily inched upward. Given the ineffectiveness of these price hikes, a number of other conservatory measures have been implemented. These efforts have primarily focused on employing water reuse practices and reducing waste, with one of the more promising practices being the use of process water as a substitute. Not only does process water allow for the reduction of traditional water consumption among industrial and commercial businesses, but it is also a cheaper alternative to water received from public and private reservoirs. EPA studies have shown that the water sourced from public and private distribution systems has been accumulating increasing amounts of rust due to aging pipelines. As a result, the EPA now requires that water leaving a city's water plant be tested for microorganisms (e.g., Cryptosporidium and Legionella) that thrive in aged piping systems. In effect, locales (e.g., Oakland, CA) are collectively spending around $50 billion each year purifying the water in their distribution systems (this is considerably less expensive than replacing their aging infrastructures). 22 wateronline.com n Water Innovations With factors such as scarcity, aging infrastructure, and water quality driving the price of municipal water higher, businesses are increasingly considering other means of securing supply. This article examines the trend toward alternatively procured process water and its impact on municipal and commercial interests. Process Water: Building A Better System Given the breadth of industrial and commercial processes in which the use of water is integral, and because reserves are shrinking, the need to identify an alternate resource is imperative.

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