University of Minnesota
Minnesota Technical Assistance Program

Conserving Water at Your Facility

Don’t jump head first into a water efficiency program. Rather, read through the following five steps and use them to develop a successful program at your facility.

  1. Conduct a water audit to measure water use in different areas of your facility. Often the water use of specific operations is not known.
  2. Develop a plan to deal with large or inefficient uses. It should be a simple, step-by-step guide outlining your specific goals and strategies.
  3. Gain management support and commitment. Showing short payback periods can help prove water efficiency is a sound investment to quickly gain long-term savings. For Twin Cities metro area facilities, impending SAC fees should put water conservation in the fast lane.
  4. Create an employee participation and awareness program. Getting commitment from your staff is essential to the success of a water reduction program. Form a committee of employees to help create and implement the plan. Develop an incentive program to recognize water saving ideas and discuss water efficiency at staff meetings. To help build credibility and offer a new perspective to employees, bring in speakers from other organizations.
  5. Review a Water Conservation Guide for Commercial, Institutional and Industrial Users [PDF 2.13MB], developed by the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer. This document contains information on areas where water savings can most likely be realized, including water conservation guidelines for specific water uses and case studies of businesses and institutions with successful water conservation programs.

Tips & Strategies

Now that you have started on your journey to conserve water at your facility, you may want to take a look at strategies that can help you obtain your goal. The following tips and strategies were developed to help you understand water conservation in your facility. For more detailed information about and examples of these strategies, see MnTAP’s fact sheet, Water Conservation Tips (2008).

Understand Your Water Flow

To establish a baseline in your facility, monitor water use; from that information, identify areas where water use can be reduced, keeping in mind that water use may differ between shifts. If feasible, you may want to install flow meters, which can quickly indicate water overuse.

Reuse or Recycle Water

Reusing water is the act of using wastewater or reclaimed water from one application for use in another, which recycling your water is when you use again in the original application. Before reusing or recycling water, be sure it meets your water quality requirements and identify any treatment steps that may be needed. Non-contact cooling water is ideal for water reuse if process demands match supply. Read the Water Reuse Fact Sheet to learn more about water reuse options.

Recirculate Cooling Water

Water is typically used to cool heat-generating equipment or to condense gases. Recycling water with a recirculating cooling system can greatly reduce your water use. MnTAP's Non-contact Cooling Water (2007) fact sheet provides opportunities to recirculate cooling water through your facility.

Improve Rinsing Systems

Rinsing products and equipment with deionized water is common for removing contaminants. The amount of deionized water can often be cut without affecting product quality by switching from a continuous-flow to an intermittent-flow system. Consider reusing deionized water because it is often more pure than municipal water even after its initial use.

Install a Clean-in-Place System

A clean-in-place (CIP) system can eliminate the need to dismantle equipment for cleaning and can help carefully control water and chemical use at your facility. Fully automated CIPs are more consistent and typically more effective than manual CIPs. Additionally, you can often use final CIP rinses as the pre-rinse for the next cleaning cycle.

Locate and Fix Leaks

Water leaks in your system can be costing you significant money. You can prevent unnecessary water loss at your facility by finding and repairing all leaks and developing a preventive maintenance program. Part of this program should be to make a checklist of all potential sources of leaks and conduct weekly inspections of equipment.

Use High-pressure, Low-volume Wet Cleaning Systems

Before using wet cleaning methods, dry clean as much as possible to recover excess product and by-products. However, when you do use wet cleanup methods, a high-pressure, low-volume cleaning system can help you cut the amount of wastewater at your facility.

Optimize Nozzle Use and Install Valves

Automatic shutoff nozzles can reduce water use by preventing water from flowing when it is not needed. Also, you can optimize the fitting sizes of nozzles to reduce flow rates and use the smallest nozzle needed to maximize efficiency. Additionally, using control valves will help stop water flow when production stops.

Engage Employees in Water Conservation

Implement a water conservation program at your facility to educate and engage employees in water conservation. Employees may need to be shown how to use water efficiently so implementing a training program to teach employees about the topic will be helpful. The training should include information in on current water use and water costs. Creating incentives for employees may help motivate them to identify ways to reduce water use.

Additional Resources

For more information about water conservation review EPA Water Sense.

Like our content and want to share it with others? Please see our reprint policy.