Water Flow Diagram Measures Water Efficiency at Industrial Plants

Water efficiency can be measured at industrial plants with a water flow diagram or water balance to show sources and use of water. Water is a ubiquitous resource yet one of the most important substances on earth.  All plants and animals must have water to survive. Without water there would be no life on earth.

Water is of strategic importance to the food industry; necessary in agriculture to grow crops to produce food and as an ingredient in making food products.

Water use is often overlooked as an input cost to be managed because of water’s ubiquity and relatively low cost.

Water Efficiency – water can be managed strategically just like energy!

The CleanFuture team is constantly working to find efficiencies and new ways to manage costs, energy, water, waste streams, and other environmental impacts. CleanFuture recently worked with several food manufacturers to develop a water balance to show water efficiency at their respective facility.

The first step to managing water efficiency is to understand the sources and uses as a foundation for developing and implementing a strategic water management plan; data collection and establishing a baseline are critical first steps. A water balance is a systematic survey of all water-using equipment, appliances, fixtures, and practices at a facility to inventory and categorize water use at a facility:

  • Water Supply Input – all water supplies for a facility and their respective volumes.
  • Process Water Use –  all areas and estimated volumes within the facility where water is lost or consumed.
  • Wastewater Discharge – all of a facility’s wastewater discharges and volumes.

This can be visualized in a simple input/output diagram showing:

  • inputs (A),
  • uses (B), and
  • outputs (C)

as shown in the diagram below.



Instead of a “black box” a better way to visualize is with a Sankey diagram, a specific type of flow diagram in which the width of the arrows is proportional to the flow quantity.  Here’s an example Sankey diagram for the general example above:


A water flow diagram using a Sankey diagram is a more insightful visualization.  CleanFuture used a Sankey diagram for a water balance at a small commercial bakery.  Water use at the bakery is mainly for cleaning at two sanitation areas, each with a pan washing machine and a large 3 compartment sink.  Water efficiency was measured using an ultrasonic flow meter on various equipment, fixtures, and pipes throughout the facility.  Here’s the resulting water flow diagram:



Where and how is water used at your facility?