Water Journal : Water Journal May 2014
WATER MAY 2014 30 Opinion As a long-time practitioner in the eld of water ef ciency in Australia, I believe the way to maintain the relevance of water ef ciency is not to promote it for its own sake but to make it so ubiquitous that it becomes business as usual. This means including water ef ciency in all aspects of design, management and operations. During the drought years terri c leaps were made in promoting and implementing water ef ciency. The commitment to integrating water ef ciency into projects became particularly evident in the more progressive areas of building design, where developers as well as potential tenants recognised the value of sustainable systems in their corporate accommodations. Likewise, the in uence of the Water Ef ciency Labelling Scheme (WELS) on the supply of water- using xtures has resulted in a terri c improvement in achieving water ef ciency when new xtures are installed. Furthermore, domestic waterwise guidelines in most states have reinforced the need for constant vigilance and have had great success in changing the water use habits of the public. There remain, however, two crucial issues for using water ef ciently: 1. People's behaviour People can break water xtures, leave water running and use water for too long, at the wrong time, for the wrong purpose. Even in the most ef ciently designed and built buildings, the way people use water can be more wasteful than the xtures in an older building. 2. Ongoing maintenance and ef cient management of water supply systems It is critically important to continue monitoring and maintaining water-using xtures and hydraulic systems in perpetuity to maintain any of the bene ts of installing ef cient xtures, either in new buildings or as a result of water audit investigations. There are, therefore, two key areas where in uence is required -- 'people and properties' or 'bodies and buildings'. In many ways the best approach is to take the control away from the 'people' (management and staff maintaining a building), and monitor 'building' water use at the utmost level of detail to ensure that any leakage and overuse issues are detected early. However, installing smart meters and receiving daily reports of water consumption levels only works well at a facility level where there is a committed staff member in place to respond to the issues, and who has the funds and authority to act quickly on concerns. A PATHWAY FORWARD Everyone who interacts with water at a site needs to be conscious that water is precious and must be used wisely. This understanding can be promoted through education and broad-scale marketing programs that fall to water utilities and state governments to create; however, such programs rely on water ef ciency being in the interests of these agencies, and this is a situation that has been waning recently. If water ef ciency were considered business as usual, the cost of water would be a driver for all business operators. Water is as much a part of the business process as any other business expense, and so should be managed as effectively as possible to maximise pro tability. In some industries this can provide a competitive edge; however, as the AWA position paper on water ef ciency states, water pricing is just a small component of the spectrum of methods for achieving water ef ciency, and at current prices the driver for water ef ciency still doesn't match other commodities. THE PRICE OF WATER EFFICIENCY IS ETERNAL VIGILANCE Water ef ciency appears to have lost momentum in the broader community, writes Reid Butler -- as could be said for the environment and science in general. So how do we maintain its relevance both for now and into the future?
Water Journal April 2014
Water Journal June 2014