An Introduction to Water Audit in Industries

Water has been an over utilized commodity in the process industry due to its low cost. However, due to increasing environmental regulations and high expectations of environmental performance, water conservation has been on the agenda for industries. Conducting a water use efficiency audit is the first step in determining the most cost effective water conservation projects.
Water audit is the measure of impact the organization has on water resources. Determining an organizations’ water consumption and the amount of water lost from a distribution system is the main aim of Water Audit. Loss of water may be due to leakage and other reasons such as pumping inefficiency, unauthorized or illegal withdrawals from the systems and the cost of such losses to the organization.
Water audit creates a detailed profile of the water distribution system. It maps water intensive units, thus facilitating effective management of water resources with improved reliability. It diagnoses the problems faced to recommend appropriate solutions. It is also an effective tool for realistic understanding and assessment of the present performance level and efficiency of the water management service and the compliance of such a system for future expansion.
Standards and guidelines
Since water is seen as a free commodity there are no specific guidelines available for the same. The Central Water Commission has taken the role to bring out General Guidelines for Water Audit which covers the three main sectors of water use i.e. irrigation, domestic and industrial. These guidelines aim to introduce, standardize and popularize the water audit system for conservation of water in all sectors and improve the water use efficiency.
Categories of Water Audit
Based on the extent of water consumption, Water Audit can be divided into four categories.

  • Large Water users:These users covers large Industries, Agriculture Municipalities and Metros with consumption more than 15 million litres per day.
  • Medium Water Users: These users covers Industrial clusters, Medium Industries and township with demand ranging from 3 million litres per day to 15 million litres per day.
  • Small Water Users: Large Hotels, IT Parks, Theme Parks, Industrial and Private Township with demand of 0.5 million litres per dayto 3 million litres per day.
  • Tiny water Users: All other users with consumption less than 0.5 million litres per daysuch as Commercial complexes, Government Offices/Buildings, Builders, Colonies etc.

Benefits of water audit
Water audit improves the distribution system, spots problems and risk areas and therefore builds a better understanding of water handling system right from source to disposal/treatment. Leak detection programs help in minimizing leakages and tackling small problems before they become major ones. These programs have the potential to-

  • Reduce water losses
  • Improve financial performance
  • Improve reliability of supply system
  • Enhance knowledge of the distribution system
  • Increase efficiency in the use of existing supplies
  • Create Better safeguard to public health and property
  • Improve public relations
  • Reduce legal liability, and reduced disruption.

Efficient use of water can be a part of the environmental strategy of a business, just like reducing the carbon footprint. Analyzing risk and opportunities associated with water allow organization to assess water related risks and opportunities. Water audit is qualitative and quantitative analysis of water consumption and it also help to assess significant social and environmental impacts associated with water scarcity.

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