Businesses are being urged to consider a fresh approach to managing their water usage and disposal through a new sustainable management concept – SWiM – which promises to underpin business resilience and generate cost savings.
An alliance of four expert water related companies has come together to launch SWiM – Sustainable Water Management for innovation, investment and infrastructure – a pioneering approach to guiding businesses or major projects towards a fully integrated and sustainable approach to managing water. A successful SWiM strategy could deliver a robust return on investment with an attractive payback period.
“It’s the logical approach, really,” explains David Schofield of Hydro Consultancy (the consultancy arm of Hydro International), which is collaborating with specialist commercial water consultants Cadantis, rainwater harvesting specialists Aquality and drilling contractors Geotechnical to launch SWiM.
“While 2012 has been confirmed as the second wettest on record, statistically the UK saw more days in drought than in flood during the whole of last year. Meanwhile, our precious groundwater resources continue to be depleted at an alarming rate.
“Some major business users consume vast amounts of high-quality potable water for everything from toilet flushing to cooling tower supply, irrigation to vehicle washing. Consequently, they pay a high-quality price for it, too.
“Meanwhile rainfall generally runs off the impermeable surfaces of their buildings, car parks and yards. Quite often it is held back in underground tanks before being discharged off-site sometimes to become someone else’s problem – in many instances the water company is supplying the same potable water they are consuming.
“SWiM can deliver a real commercial advantage to companies by helping them to integrate their water management in a genuinely sustainable manner. It will also help them to demonstrate Corporate Social Responsibility.”
The SWiM process starts with a forensic water investigation to explore ways to optimise water management, including finance, across the whole organisation. The SWiM concept then looks to build business resilience by promoting and optimising the use of on-site water resources such as surface water, rainwater, greywater and groundwater via borehole extraction.
These alternative sources of water can be used for a wide range of applications including, irrigation, laundry, toilet flushing, vehicle washing or even potable consumption (with appropriate treatment). Above or below ground storage traditionally used for managing surface water runoff can be designed to operate as multi-benefit structures.
Through SWiM, a business is guided through the different project stages required to deliver a bespoke, integrated water management solution, from initial project appraisal through to detailed design, construction and turnkey commissioning if required.
“It’s an exciting and long overdue concept,” David continues. “We believe major UK businesses such as retailers with multiple sites, logistics firms, manufacturers and even some SMEs will want to explore the opportunities. Every solution will be bespoke.”
SWiM offers potential for new solutions to water management for both new developments and retrofit for existing business sites. It also offers the opportunity for new building projects to be compliant with planning regulations, provide compliant flood risk assessments or achieve high performance ratings under BREEAM and the Code for Sustainable Homes.
At national level widespread concerns are being raised about the UK’s water security and infrastructure by many leading organisations, such as the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), the Chartered Institution of Water and Environment Management (CIWEM). Meanwhile the UK’s Carbon Trust has recently launched an International Water Standard to help businesses measure water use and seek ways to reduce consumption. Climate change is leading to increasing cycles of drought and floods, leaving the country vulnerable to both water shortages and to devastating and costly surface water flooding.
“Whilst solutions are being sought to achieve a truly joined-up approach to water management at the macro-national level, building business resilience through water security may be the driver that helps achieve the process from existing development without any need for changes in legislation or policy,” said David.
For more information visit: www.swim-innovation.com