In the 1746 Poor Richard’s Almanack, Benjamin Franklin published “When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water” (Franklin, 1746); industrial water users have begun to see the truth in these words as they examine the potential and reality of water scarcity becoming a significant business risk. Through the authors’ interactions with manufacturers via the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Plants program and Strategic Analysis projects, they realized that manufacturing facilities often do not fully understand the risks to the water supply and the consequential risks to their business. The authors’ also noticed that many facilities do not know how their water is used (baselining), how they compare with their peers (benchmarking), the actual cost impacts of water use (true cost of water), and potential areas for water savings. This results in a lack of motivation and ability to identify and implement effective water-efficiency measures.
The Plant Water Profiler Tool (PWP) was created to help manufacturing plant management address these issues by identifying and accounting for water use in manufacturing operations, helping determine the true cost of water, and providing some high-level estimates for peer comparison. The PWP uses a water mass balance and common engineering equations to estimate water use by each of the facility’s systems (e.g., differentiating process water use from cooling and restroom water use), even when no submetering data is available. This new tool also helps users identify possible areas for water savings and associated water and energy cost savings, making it a potentially useful resource for corporations conducting water assessments. Additionally, governments and private organizations can use the methodology behind this tool to design a survey to help build a database of industrial water use.
This paper and corresponding presentation provide an overview of current industrial water use practices and tools, as well as the value of determining the true cost of water. It also briefly describes the methodology behind the tool, then focuses on its functionality through an industrial case study and lessons learned from implementing the case study.