Developing a Sustainable Water Treatment and Conservation Program

Developing a Sustainable Water Treatment and Conservation Program

The foodservice and hospitality industries are experiencing increasing pressures to provide high quality culinary and lodging experience to clientele with increasingly thinner profit margins. Hence, controlling operating costs becomes an important role in the success of any foodservice or hospitality establishment. Another increasingly important element is growing consumer expectations with regard to sustainability. Consumers are becoming more environmentally conscious and are demanding vendors to adopt green practices and shift towards sustainable operations.

For a long time, the cost of water has been taken for granted by many Canadians. High quality water is available to Canadians at one of the lowest prices available anywhere in the developed world, according to the United Nations World Water Assessment Programme. The world has changed, however. Available fresh water supplies are decreasing, and climate change is posing significant environmental stresses that may limit fresh water supplies in the future. Therefore, water conservation is crucial from an environmental as well as an economic point of view. It makes perfect business sense to conserve water!

Smart foodservice and hospitality establishments can optimize their operations by reducing energy and water consumption while maintaining superior food and beverage quality. The installation of the right water treatment system does not only produce premium quality water, but also helps preserve foodservice equipment and maintain high efficiency. For example, the installation of an appropriately sized hardness control system reduces the formation of scale deposits in steamers and boilers. Consequently, food and beverage equipment maintain high efficiency, which in turn reduces energy consumption over the lifetime of the equipment.

In addition to selecting the right treatment systems, operators can save significantly on water, sewer and energy costs by fixing leaks and retrofitting inefficient plumbing fixtures with modern, low-flow fixtures.

It should be noted that wasting water does not only cost the volume of water, but also includes the sewer charge to dispose that water. If the wasted water is hot, then the cost of energy to heat that amount of wasted water must also be considered!

For many people, the perception is the cost of water and energy are not directly related. There is usually more attention given to energy conservation since the savings are more obvious and quicker than water. However, an important aspect of sustainability is controlling both water and energy usage. In fact, it is estimated that about 170 litres of water is consumed for every kilowatt hour of power used in Ontario. Hence, saving water saves energy and vice versa.

Developing sustainable water and energy practices is not costly. In fact, there are various incentives programs by municipalities across Canada to encourage businesses and individuals to conserve water and energy. In the City of Toronto for instance, an incentive of $150 is paid for every old toilet that is replaced with a modern, low-flow model. Another innovative program for restaurant owners in the Toronto Area is the Spray ’N’ Save program, offered in partnership between the City of Toronto and Enbridge Gas Distribution Inc.

Under the Spray ‘N’ Save program, Enbridge Gas offers a free high velocity pre-rinse spray valve to its full service restaurant customers. The high velocity valve has a lower flow rate than the typical rinse valve. Some of the old rinse valves are rated for as much as 5 gallons per minute, while some of the high velocity pre-rinse valves are rated to as little as 0.65 gallons per minute. The water savings can be as much as 4.35 gallons per minute, plus the cost of energy to heat that water. In fact, according to the City of Toronto, the use of one high velocity pre-rinse spray valve in a typical restaurant can save as much as $850 per year on water and sewer charges and $650 on natural gas charges! The Spray ‘N’ Save program is also offered by Terasen Gas for restaurants and food kitchens in the Vancouver Island area.

In today’s competitive environment, smart foodservice and hospitality operators can gain a competitive edge by developing a sustainable water treatment and conservation program. The goal should be to create a superior culinary experience based on premium treated water, coupled with sustainable practices that produce a minimal environmental footprint. The returns on investment in sustainable operations are not only commercial in terms of cost savings, but also include enhancement of corporate image as a leader in foodservice sustainability. In addition, the foodservice and hospitality industries can contribute greatly to the development of green economies by setting an example to their suppliers and customers.