Due to highly publicized drought events and changing public perception, sustainable water management is a growing priority in recent years to companies in a variety of sectors. As with any change to their current operations, companies view water-conservation projects through a financial lens. When evaluating water usage at an industrial facility, however, the full cost of water is not always taken into account even though costs from water are incurred through all parts of the process chain. Companies routinely evaluate risks that may impact their finances, but such reports do not traditionally include risks associated with water supply or impaired water quality.
Among the many components of any industrial facility that require water, cooling towers offer a significant opportunity for water reuse. Cooling towers are frequently the most common industrial reuse option because of the high water demand, relatively low quality of water required and low cost to implement. Cooling towers can use reclaimed water from on-site or municipal sources, including wastewater from industrial processes and even municipal wastewater effluent. Clearly defining the value of water will help companies identify where they can improve their water use and ultimately create a return. Based on the foundation's experience with water reuse for industrial processes, this article will explore research projects demonstrating how facilities employ water reuse in cooling processes.