Making water supplies more resilient for manufacturers

Manufacturers are being urged to review their contingency plans following water supply disruptions caused by extreme weather last week which saw Cadbury's and Jaguar Land Rover temporarily close factories in the West Midlands.

Extracting water from alternative sources and using simple monitoring devices can help businesses to develop resilience around their water supplies which would enable their production to continue in the event of a similar incident.

While some business functions do require mains quality water, others, such as toilet flushing and vehicle cleaning can be carried out using grey water. Rainwater harvesting, bore holes and water abstraction from nearby streams and rivers could all provide businesses with thousands of litres of water which would enable them to reduce their consumption and reduce their water bills. It would also reduce their carbon footprint to help meet environmental goals.

Paul Rogers, Key Account Manager with Source for Business, said: "The events of last week underline the importance of having contingency plans in place in case there is another extreme weather incident. Such events do not happen very often but businesses need to be prepared for them. If pipes do burst this can cause significant disruption to production as well as damage to property, higher bills and reputation.
"Very often these sorts of water efficiency measures will also lead to a reduction in water bills so any investment will give a rapid payback."

There are also simple monitoring devices that manufacturers can use to monitor water levels so that small leaks can be detected at an early point before they become a major problem. For example, water loggers can be fitted to meters to help firms to monitor their water consumption on a day-to-day basis. Alarms can be set up on these loggers to highlight greater than expected usage which would help businesses to spot potential leaks at an early stage.

Top tips for manufacturing businesses include:

  • Consider investing in water storage tanks to maintain a reserve which would enable production to continue as usual in the event of any disruption to the mains supply.
  • Consider installing booster pumps and holding tanks that will allow you to set the water pressure and flow you require. This will offer some contingency if there is a water outage and can also help solve water supply problems as factories and businesses expand
  • Appoint a water efficiency champion – a staff member who is responsible for monitoring water consumption and who can quickly highlight any unexpected increases in consumption that could be caused by leaks
  • Consider installing strategic shut off valves that can isolate parts of the site so that, if there is a problem, it can be quickly isolated and repaired rather than requiring a complete shutdown
  • Consider taking expert advice on how your site could use alternative water sources and water efficiency devices to improve resilience

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