Reliable access to high-quality tap water has always played a vital role in helping keep life flowing – even in ways that aren’t visible to the naked eye, from helping keep hospitals running to developing the materials your home was built with and growing the food your family eats.
American Water provides clean, safe, reliable and affordable water and wastewater services to commercial businesses around the country that support critical operations such as healthcare, manufacturing and food production. As these industries are necessary to supporting the everyday lives of the customers and communities we serve, we are committed to their long-term viability and routinely analyze our water quality and their water usage to identify ways to help these water-dependent businesses become more water-efficient.
Let’s dive into the importance of some of these industries, their need for high-quality water to operate and best practices for water efficiency to support their future.
The Industries: How they are essential and how water is essential to them.
Hospitals and healthcare facilities have always been vital to thriving communities, and their leading role during COVID-19 has put a spotlight on just how important these institutions are in supporting the health and well-being of Americans across the country. None of them could operate without water. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), approximately 7% of the total water use in commercial and institutional facilities in the U.S. takes place in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Inside the facilities, water helps power cooling equipment, conduct medical process rinses and contributes to sanitation. Beyond requiring access to water, the quality of the water is incredibly important because a high quality of water is required for equipment to maintain purification and health and safety standards. American Water is dedicated to this process – our water quality professionals and treatment plant operators perform over one million tests each year at our nearly 80 quality control labs, to provide health professionals and patients with a high-quality water supply.
From the materials your home and automobiles are built with to the machine that makes your coffee, the manufacturing industry makes your daily life possible. Over the past year, many manufacturers have shifted to producing PPE, and eventually vaccines, to fight the health emergency, in addition to fulfilling the production of everyday needs. These operations are extremely dependent on a reliable source of high-quality water. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau has estimated that the U.S. manufacturing industry requires 18 billion gallons per day of water for use in production operations, and manufacturing accounts for almost 25% of global freshwater withdrawals.
Farming, Agriculture & Food Production
From growing fruits and vegetables to manufacturing packaged products, to supporting the menu items at the local brewery or café down the street, water is an essential component in food production and distribution. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), irrigated agriculture accounts for the largest share of the nation’s consumptive water use. In these fields, the quality of the water can impact the quality of food grown, including taste – in fact, some community bakeries and breweries credit their local water sources as the main factor in making their menu items taste so good. As we monitor and test water at multiple points throughout our process from source to tap, we do it with these businesses, and their customers, in mind.
Moving Forward: Water efficiency can help businesses thrive long-term.
As we examine the huge impact that commercial businesses make in people’s everyday lives, it is important that their critical operations remain sustainable for a long time to come. Commercial businesses that work to embrace water efficiency are positioning themselves for long-term success. In addition to reducing operating costs, water efficiency measures help businesses adopt more sustainable practices and reduce their water footprints – improvements that more and more consumers are demanding from the companies with whom they interact.
So, how can businesses improve their water efficiency?
- By keeping an eye on water usage and bills, businesses can develop a gauge on what normal usage looks like. When those numbers change with obvious cause, it may be time to check for leaks, investigate further or contact your water provider.
- For large operations, such as those in manufacturing, you may be able to improve water efficiency by evaluating the amount of water used in each step of a process or in between those steps. The EPA’s Lean and Water Toolkit helps industrial facilities evaluate process water using pollution prevention and traditional manufacturing efficiency techniques.
- Water efficiency is not a one-and-done effort – it requires a long-term commitment to improving operating processes and procedures. But the benefits around cost savings, sustainability and customer satisfaction will pay dividends for years to come.
In all of this, we at American Water have one goal: support the businesses that support the everyday lives of the people across our communities and the country. We are proud to play a part in helping keep Americans’ lives flowing.