Saving water for an entire industrial site

Saving water for an entire industrial site

Several large industries in Quebec have had a ministerial authorization for several years now, formerly called a sanitation certificate. When renewing the authorization, it is very possible that the MELCCFP will ask companies to validate the technical feasibility of reducing their consumption and use of water. Mainly for water entering processes as additives or as a cooling agent. The ministry is now asking to validate all possible outcomes to reduce consumption and or recycle it within the processes. At first glance, the company may see this as a major new constraint on its operations. We believe that on the contrary and in several situations, this approach will allow our clients to control water data more optimally in order to respond adequately and in a structured manner to this new reality. Not to mention that investments in real-time measurement equipment as well as improvements in the production process and water recycling can ultimately lead to significant financial savings in the long term. As the charges for water use continue to increase and respecting ESG factors, which will no longer be the sole responsibility of listed companies, these should be incentives for several decision-makings towards a more in-depth analysis of their use of water resources.

What are the steps to carry out a techno-economic study on source reduction of drinking water and recirculation of processed water?

Step 1 :

The first step is to master the flow diagram of the process and all of the water and sewer networks of the factory or complex. This step is crucial in order to clearly identify the interventions that will be carried out when taking data.

Step 2 :

After determining the water arrival and exit points, the subsequent step will consist of measuring the flow rates at the entry and exit of the process and/or the different processes on the operating site. For large water consumers, regulation Q.2, r.14 on the declaration of water withdrawals already requires monitoring of extraction or consumption flow rates using measuring equipment such as flow meters. The same for other regulations requiring a flow measurement at the discharge point. It is therefore possible to start with this data but it will be insufficient to obtain a finer picture of the flow rates consumed by process. Note that solutions are available to carry out such specific and sectoral surveys with non-permanent equipment allowing great agility in carrying out this step.

Step 3 :

Data collection is a very important phase where we must not skimp on the number of measurement points or the duration. The objective must be representative of the reality of operations and sequences (daily, weekly and seasonal) leading to high water consumption. Note that existing measuring equipment as well as that which will be used during the data collection period must be calibrated beforehand in order to provide reliable information that is not questionable by the ministry.

The data collected will supply the flow diagram to make it possible to draw up a water balance and quickly validate where reduction and/or recycling efforts should be initiated.

Step 4 :

This is when the company’s internal engineering teams come into play to propose improvements that could allow reductions or recirculation of the water consumed. These actions can range from simply changing faulty or inaccurate consumption measurement equipment, to repairing leaky pipes to changing equipment consuming significant quantities of water.

Better knowledge of the flow pattern and consumption rates can also have an impact on the wastewater flow rates which must inevitably be treated eventually. A reduction in the water consumed will lead to a reduction in the effort devoted to its treatment. Several large water consumers also have performance obligations in terms of discharged water which generate pre-treatment and/or treatment costs for a large volume that must be managed on site or discharged into the municipal sewer. Reducing at source therefore also has an undeniable advantage in terms of treatment costs.

Action Plan

After drawing up a list of possible improvements or modifications, it must be presented to the MELCCFP for approval. In the form of an action plan (or work plan) coupled with a timetable which can extend over several years, this approach must always take into account the necessary effort and the impacts on production, the aspects linked to the health and safety as well as the financial capacity of the company.

Trust our team of engineering consulting experts

Avizo is qualified to help you carry out such an approach with the MELCCFP by supporting your environment teams as well as your engineering teams at all stages of measurement and presentation of a water balance during the renewal of the authorization. Our teams of technicians trained to operate on industrial sites and our experienced engineers for more than 30 years in the water field will help you to ensure compliance with the requirements. We have all the equipment to carry out all stages of data collection and investigations in order to deliver clear and reliable suggestions to ensure continuity of your operations and preserve water resources for the benefit of your business.


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