Many businesses are started with great plans to provide exemplary service and products in the attempt to attract customers and become the leader in their field. Often, the systems and infrastructure required to achieve these noble goals involve water.
Lots and lots of water.
At first glance, water is cheap. Where else can you get 2200 pounds of anything for less than three dollars? What gets missed is how much water we will actually use. Many water intensive businesses find themselves facing water bills of thousands of dollars per month due to the sheer volume of water required. In one year, residents and businesses in the City of Toronto use enough water to fill a 12’x12’ square trench long enough to circle the globe.
Now, with focus on environmental stewardship and an eye on recurring expenses and with the pressures of increased population and demand on dwindling water supplies and water rate increases, there is a solution that has the potential to save businesses thousands of dollars with a very low investment.
If you have a business that sees a steady stream of customers or employees using washrooms, there may be an opportunity to save large enough quantities of water to justify the small investment in water recycling and collection systems.
In a home, toilet flushing represents 30% of the water we use. In a business, that percentage can increase to 50% or even nearly 100% of total consumption.
Brac Residential Greywater Recycling systems collect the used water from showers and bathtubs and reuse it to flush toilets after filtering and disinfecting wastewater that would otherwise go down the drain. Commercially, similar sized systems from Brac can be used to collect from a variety of sources to be used for the same purpose. When reclaimed water sources are not available, Brac rainwater collection systems are available to meet the demand. Any business that flushes a large volume of water down the toilet can benefit from reclaimed water.
For larger demands such as hotels, multi-unit residential buildings, prisons and even nursing homes, large commercial systems work in exactly the same way on a larger scale.
In Barrie, Bodystream, a wellness centre will save up to one million litres of water per year representing a savings of up to $3000 annually. The combined system, using greywater from showers and rainwater as a secondary supply cost under $10,000 to install during the construction of their facility.
In Welland, a bottled water store, Aquaduct Water Solutions, now uses a residentially sized Brac greywater-recycling unit to collect over 10,000 litres of Reverse Osmosis wastewater that was previously going down the drain. The water is used to flush the toilets for all of the clients in the entire strip mall where they are located. Tenants include a busy 60-seat restaurant.
The Lanark County administration building is using a 950 liter greywater system to collect water from a sump pump that runs every few minutes most of the year. All of the water their employees use for flushing now comes from this previously wasted supply.
Seven schools in Ontario will be equipped this year with a variety of Brac systems to reduce the total flush demand for the entire school. Variations will include greywater, rainwater, system flush, swimming pool backwash, some showers and drinking fountains.
The potential savings for these systems are a function of the application and will vary with the flush demand, potential supply, the frequency of the supply and the size of the storage tank. When sources are available daily (as in showers) or even hourly (as in the sump pump), the total amount of required storage is much less and the return on the investment is much quicker.
If we are going to look at payback, we must look at more than just the first year or two. Our currently subsidized energy and hidden utility costs are a passing phase. Energy costs will surely increase as they have throughout the rest of the world. Water costs will also increase. With crumbling infrastructure leaking an average of 17% of the fresh water they carry and population increase demanding more water than the infrastructure can supply, substantial investments will need to be made for expansion and repair. Based on today’s water and sewage rates, a properly sized greywater recycling system installed in a new residential application will yield a payback of somewhere between 7 and 10 years for an average sized family. But if you look a little further and consider the impact of steadily increasing water rates, you get a much different story. In Toronto, with annual 9% increases the norm, the typical savings of $300 this year will increase to over $600 by year 8. After 8 years, the total savings will be nearly $4000.
Small commercial and larger scale projects yield an even more attractive return. And because systems are usually less expensive when installed during renovations or new building, even quicker returns are possible.
If you are starting a new business, moving into a new location, investing in a multi-unit residential or mixed-use building, a quick look at how water will be used may pay dividends into the future.
Brac Systems is the Quebec based manufacturer of Brac Greywater Recycling Systems and Rainwater Harvesting products. www.bracsystems.com
Project Innovations is the exclusive distributor of Brac products in Ontario. www.projectinnovations.ca
Chris Thompson the Business Development Manager at Project Innovations and can often be found presenting and writing about the benefits of water reclamation technology in Ontario and around the world. (705) 734-6258