News to Help You Save Water and Money
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Commercial Water Conservation News
Summer 2016

$84K Yearly Water Savings at Applied Materials

Semiconductor manufacturer Applied Materials received almost $30,000 in rebates from Austin Water for the installation of a system that recycles more than six million gallons yearly used to manufacture semiconductors. The recycled water is used for non-potable water needs including makeup water for two 850-ton cooling towers. The recycling system produces a daily average of 16,440 gallons that offsets the need for potable water and reduces the amount of process water discharged to the sanitary sewer. This saves Applied Materials approximately $84,000 a year.  Applied Material applied for funding assistance for this system under Austin Water’s  "Bucks for Business" Commercial Rebate program.

UT Goes High-Tech on Irrigation

The University of Texas at Austin has installed several innovative irrigation system upgrades including a new automated central irrigation computer control system that reduced irrigation usage by 66 percent and saved almost 100 million gallons of water yearly. 

UT’s irrigation “Dashb
oard“ allows remote monitoring and control of the irrigation system across the entire campus directly from a computer or handheld device.  Using flow sensors and a rain sensor system, the system alerts the computer when there is a localized rain event or a break has occurred and so that the irrigation system can be shut off immediately from a remote location. This system was used as the template for Austin Water’s Irrigation System Improvement Rebate.

Seaholm Wins for Rainwater Harvesting

The rainwwater harvesting system at the Seaholm Power Plant Redevelopment won the Rain Catcher Award from the Texas Water Development Board.
The 325,000 gallon system reused the power plant's cooling infrastructure. The system provides all irrigation needs for a five-acre site and surrounding streetscape plantings, and doubles as a stormwater control system for the site and surrounding public streets.
Rainwater is collected from rooftops and the plaza in the development and the surrounding streets, and is stored in intake pipes and weirs of the former power plant's cooling system. When the system fills to capacity, water drains into an irrigation system for adjacent parkland. By repurposing existing infrastructure, costs were held down and irrigation water is provided at a reduced cost. Custom manhole covers for the weir caps and interpretive signage educate the public on the otherwise largely invisible system.

Hotels Go WaterWise, Save Money

Hotels and lodging account for about 15 percent of the total water used by commercial and institutional facilities in Austin. Installing water saving fixtures can decrease water and energy costs significantly.

Austin’s WaterWise Hotel Partner Program recognizes hotels that achieve significant water savings by taking recommended measures and equipment retrofits.  Many of these are eligible for Austin Water rebates.

Recognition includes a certificate for the lobby, use of the WaterWise Hotel Partner logo in advertising and the Austin Convention & Visitor’s Bureau places your property on the list of Austin’s “green” hotels made available to Austin visitors.      

To qualify as a WaterWise Hotel Partner:
  1. Download the WaterWise Hotel Partnership application and checklist for required and recommended measures;
  2. Using the checklist, perform a water use survey of your facility (Austin Water staff are available to help you fill out the survey) to see if you already qualify or what more may be needed for certification as a WaterWise Hotel and Austin Water rebates;
  3. Identify water conservation opportunities and recommendations including estimated water savings, rebate eligibility, cost benefit and return on investment to present to hotel management (Austin Water offers an Audit Rebate  of up to $5,000 for the cost of a professional water efficiency audit and the report);
  4. Apply for Water Conservation for Businesses rebates for water-saving equipment such as EPA Energy Star or WaterSense labeled kitchen equipment, high efficiency showerheads, ozone treatment laundry systems, irrigation system upgrades and central computer irrigation control systems, and cooling tower water treatment efficiency systems;
  5. Implement any additional measures necessary to qualify for WaterWise Partner Hotel certification.

Cooling Towers—Big Water Wasters

Cooling towers can be seen on almost every high-rise building in Austin.  But many are decades old and so inefficient that they consume as much water in a day as a building's bathrooms, drinking fountains, kitchens and other water-using equipment combined.

Bucks for Business—Rebates up to $100,000 for equipment and process upgrades.

Audit Rebate—Up to $5,000 for an independent water efficiency audit of an industrial, commercial or institutional facility.

If it’s time to replace your cooling tower, consider air cooled, variable refrigerant flow, or hybrid systems that significantly reduce the need for water. The lifetime of a cooling tower is about 15 years.  The replacement cost can be as much as $150,000; the cost to upgrade an existing tower running at 2 cycles of concentration to at least 10 cycles is about $65,000, going from 2 to 10 cycles would save almost 7.6 million gallons a year, or $82,800 in water and wastewater bills, with a simple payback period of nine months for a 400-ton cooling tower. The cost can be further reduced with an Austin Water rebate.

How Cooling Towers Lose Water

Water from cooling towers is lost in two ways: evaporation and blowdown. Evaporation is the means by which water gives up its heat. Blowdown is the water discharged to the sanitary sewer to maintain a concentration of dissolved salts and other materials to  minimize scaling or other fouling of the tower. A cooling tower operator can increase the cycles of concentration  by carefully adjusting the chemical treatment in cooling tower water. Water can be conserved by increasing the number of times water is recirculated through the tower before discharge to the sanitary sewer,

Austin Water conservation professionals can help you navigate the latest technology, practices and products when considering retrofits or replacement of your cooling tower.  For more information contact Mark Jordan, (512) 974-3901.

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