Canadian Consulting Engineer

Conserving water has its drawbacks

September 28, 2015   CCE

Everyone thinks that saving water is a good thing for the environment, but it has its drawbacks. Klaus Reichardt, the head of a company that manufactures waterless urinals and water saving fixtures is the surprising author of an announcement outlining the problems that can occur when a state like California drastically cuts back on its water use.

California’s water agencies are reporting that the state is using 30 per cent less water than it was two years ago, writes the founder of Waterless Co.. The drought and resulting conservation measures have brought about the drastically reduced demands on this vital resource.

“However, with this good news come some unexpected problems,” Reichardt says, and points out that California’s experiences could easily spread to other jurisdictions.

He lists several unexpected problems that have been observed from reduced water use. Some affect the bottom lines of water agencies, but others are problems for the plant operators or the general population:

* Multi-million dollar revenue shortfalls for water suppliers
* Rate increases from utility companies to address these revenue shortfalls
* Less water in main sewer lines has resulted in blockages that can be costly to repair
* Foul odours because main sewer lines are either blocked or sewage is moving too slowly through the system
* Water utility companies needing to flush fresh water down main sewer pipes more often to keep them running properly
* Less water is being recycled-some utility companies and other organizations are very dependent on recycled water for irrigation and other needs
* Tree roots are extending deeper into the ground in search of water, often invading fresh water and sewage pipes which then must be repaired.
* Odours released from indoor restroom floor drains as custodial workers reduce mopping frequencies.

“Most of these issues will be with us for some time, others can be tackled in the near future,” says Reichardt.  “For instance, using an ‘ever prime’ product poured into floor drains can help eliminate restroom odors immediately.  But we must focus on the big picture: in the long-run using less water is a benefit for us all.”


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