Continuous improvement of operational systems, ranging from more rapid and effective leak detection to enhanced metering, contributes to water conservation in important ways.
Water efficiency is just as important as water conservation. Water efficiency means improved practices and technologies to deliver water services more efficiently – reducing operating costs (e.g., pumping and treatment), and reducing the need to develop new supplies and expand our water infrastructure. For example, improved metering systems result in more accurate usage information and increased employee efficiency, while leak detection programs can reduce the amount of water, pressure, and energy required to deliver the same amount of water to consumers.
Improving water efficiency also reduces withdrawals from limited freshwater supplies, leaving more water for future use and improving the ambient water quality and aquatic habitat.
Water Withdrawal and Reuse
We obtain permits, approvals, allocations or licenses for all water sources we use. Permit criteria vary tremendously and for this reason we do not post corporate targets for volume allocation. These are instead tracked at the source level within each system and/or state.
Of the water that is withdrawn at a typical water treatment plant, approximately 95 percent is delivered to the water system for customer consumption and roughly 5 percent is used for internal production processes. Of that 5 percent, the vast majority of our facilities (roughly 90 percent) reuse the water in the production process, and in the instances where this is not done, the plant discharges the water back to a water body with the approval of the regulating authority. Though not directly measured, this is assumed to be approximately 1 percent.
We are committed to pollution prevention and control in our wastewater activities. This covers flooding of sewage stations and leakages from the wastewater network. We take a holistic approach to pollution prevention – focused first and foremost on ensuring compliance with all relevant environmental laws, regulations, and standards. We have set quantified targets relating to Notices of Violations (NoVs) and Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) violations.