Are you ready for a drought?
Living in Britain is supposedly synonymous with owning an umbrella. And a cagoule. And wellies. But something strange is happening – or not happening – rain. It has been very dry – and it is thought we might be heading for the worst drought in 30 years. We can pontificate on the reasons – the old ‘can or cannot it be attributed to climate change’ dingdong – but it is more fruitful to consider the potential impacts.
According to the Telegraph’s Geoffrey Lean, we might be about to move from the second level of measures (possible hosepipe bans) into the third level which could include bans on washing vehicles and swimming pools closed. If it goes beyond that, level 4, we could be into strict rationing – and business will get hit first.
Water is a regional resource. Here in the North East we have a huge reservoir at Kielder which was built for an expansion of the Teesside chemical industry that never happened. So we’re probably OK at Terra Infirma Towers, but if you are based in the South East, it is a quite different matter.
Do you know how would this impact on your business? Do you use water in production or operations? Do you have alternative sources? And how should a responsible business respond? Clamouring for a bigger share of a dwindling resource isn’t going to look good.
Broadly there are two approaches: use less and use better water.
1. Less water:
- Draw up a water balance to understand your water use and identify leaks and other uncontrolled losses;
- Track down and fix any leaks – use ultrasonic detectors to find any underground;
- Cascade water from uses where it has to be very clean down to uses where contamination can be tolerated;
- Find internal recycling opportunities – eg use last wash water for first rinse or treat and reuse waste water on site;
- Maintain land in a water friendly way to minimise the need for irrigation;
- Invest in low water technology from hose nozzles through waterless urinals to advanced process plant;
- Educate your staff on the important of good water management – you wouldn’t believe the number of hoses left running for no good reason that I have seen on industrial sites.
2. ‘Better’ water
- Capture and store rainwater to even out peaks and troughs in precipitation;
- Source suitable waste water from other users – the world famous industrial symbiosis cluster at Kalundborg started with a cascade of water from one site to another.
If you haven’t already thought about the impact of water shortages, you’d better get moving. “Do a rain dance” is not a substantial risk management plan.