What is water reuse, and how can it improve processes throughout an industrial business?
Water reuse is the reapplication of industrial process water or wastewater for a secondary purpose. It means ensuring that effluent is treated sufficiently to allow it to be used on site for washdown, clean-in-place or other secondary activities.
Industries may find that replacing existing water-hungry process equipment with less water-intensive modern solutions is also a viable option. Using less water also means that smaller (and less expensive) pumps could be required and that the costs of any chemicals added to the wastewater are also reduced.
Driving down the amount of effluent generated and discharged ensures that companies not only reduce their impact on the environment, but also that they reduce their carbon footprint and eliminate the fines levied by municipalities for surcharges.
Large water users can discharge huge amounts of wastewater to municipal wastewater treatment facilities, and the costs of sending excess effluent to be treated can be extremely high. In some applications this can be up to $40,000 (£28,000) per month, on top of fees and the costs of operating in-house treatment equipment.
As well as reducing fines and the money spent on raw water use, water reuse allows companies to consider energy generation and to reduce secondary costs such as maintenance and frequent pump replacement.
If water can be reused for washdown and clean-in-place activities, the amount of raw water required and associated costs can be substantially reduced, while ensuring that the plant is operating correctly is an essential part of making certain that the re-use targets are met and that maintenance isn’t a large burden.
Companies discharging effluent risk not only fines and pollution incidents but also damage to their reputation and brand image. Industrial water users need to consider the potentially massive financial penalties for effluent surcharges, the costs of regularly replacing pumps due to grit breakthrough, and the lost efficiency savings associated with not reusing water because it contains contaminants, solids, or other process materials.
Keeping within discharge limits is important because of the huge penalties attached to surcharges. Municipalities execute these fines because of the challenges associated with disposing large amounts of effluents, without negatively affecting either surface waters or aquifers. Identifying equipment and process issues before they become critical is key to eliminating fines and penalties.