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Saving Water, the Private-Sector Way

To hear your standard environmentalist tell it, we’re well on our way to a perpetually parched world. True, freshwater is a precious commodity, and much of it gets wasted, but a number of private companies are finding new ways to streamline processes that save water—and thus to save money as well. The BBC reports:

Nestle USA’s pizza division factory in Little Chute, Wisconsin […] has teamed up with GE Water to reduce its water usage in its cooling towers. […B]y applying GE’s advanced water-treatment chemical technology to the plant’s cooling towers, the factory has been able to use re-use its water to a much greater degree – saving some 7.4 million gallons of water and reducing sewer discharges by the same amount.

And another example, this time in saving wastewater in the food and beverage industry:

Treating food and beverage wastewater can still leave an unpleasant by-product called ‘sludge’. It costs money to dispose of, not to mention creates greenhouse gases. […] But US firm Nutrinsic has come up with a novel solution – turning the nutrients in factory wastewater into quality animal feed. […] The plant reduces expenses while Nutrinsic benefits financially from sales of the feed.

In their quests to improve their bottom lines, businesses sometimes pursue efficiency gains that also benefit the environment. Economic growth and environmental stewardship are not mutually exclusive goals, but rather can work in tandem. Green policies can be more effectively implemented if promoted in the context of the savings they provide, rather than some platonic ideal of unsullied nature.

The modern green movement chooses to focus on instances in which development has marred our environment, but that myopic world view neglects to acknowledge humanity’s ability to find solutions to these problems.

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  • ShadrachSmith

    The key stat is that 75% of America’s potable water goes on lawns.

    • David E.M. Thompson

      And 90% of all water taken from lakes or aquifers goes to agriculture, at a price far below anything that would be set by a market – often zero. Consequently, agriculture is not an industry that attempts to conserve.

      • ShadrachSmith

        You don’t speak for agriculture and that is not what they say.

        It is Greens that waste the most water, in 2009 and 2010 more than 300 billion gallons (or 1 million acre-feet) of water were diverted away from farmers in the Central Valley and into the San Francisco Bay for the brown smelt?

        I would guess the farmers would have managed that water better without the help from the greens, just a guess 🙂

      • Wayne Lusvardi

        No, in California about 17% of all rainfall and 42% of all system water in reservoirs and aqueducts is used by agriculture. The largest share of system water goes to wildlife and fish refuges.

    • Zolicon

      “Stupid is as Stupid does.”

    • Wayne Lusvardi

      The best study we have is lawns soak up about 44% of municipal water and municipal water in a state like California is only 8% of all system water. So we’re talking about 3.5% of all system water goes to irrigating lawns. And in areas where there are alluvial soils and underground water basins, those basins depend on people watering their lawns for about 15% of its recharge.

      • ShadrachSmith

        It is hard to know whose study is ‘best’, what do you say we round it off at half 🙂

  • Zolicon

    Sorry but I have absolutely no interest is saving Water so that those who are polluting it can have more of it for Their own use.

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