Through our daily support of our clients’ sustainability initiatives, the CleanFuture team is constantly working to find efficiencies and new ways to manage costs, energy, water, waste streams, and other environmental impacts.
Water is a ubiquitous resource and 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 also as an ingredient and an element in making food products.
Yet because of water’s ubiquity and relatively low cost, water use is often overlooked as an input cost to be managed.
developing strategic water management programs for the food industry similar to strategic energy management is recent work by CleanFuture. Strategic energy management is embodied by a set of processes that empower an organization to implement energy management actions and consistently achieve energy performance improvements. Strategic energy management allows for continuous energy performance improvement by providing the processes and systems needed to incorporate energy considerations and energy management into daily operations.
Water can be managed strategically just like energy!
The first step to managing any such resources 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.
Recently CleanFuture worked with several food manufacturers on water assessments to develop a water balance for their facility. A water balance is a systematic survey of all water-using equipment, appliances, fixtures, and practices at a facility. A water balance inventories and categorizes water use at a facility:
- Water Supply Input – identifies all water supplies for a facility and their respective volumes.
- Process Water Use – identifies all the areas and estimated volumes within the facility where water is lost or consumed.
- Wastewater Discharge – identifies all of the 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 provides a much more insightful visualization so we tried using a Sankey diagram to show 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 use was measured using an ultrasonic flow meter on various equipment, fixtures, and pipes throughout the facility. Here’s the resulting water flow diagram:
Do you know where and how water is used at your facility?