Water – a ubiquitous natural resource on earth, and while abundant, only about 1% is accessible for use. With influences from climate change and population growth, the demand of water will increase to 55% globally by 2050 according to the United Nations. This increased demand will primarily be induced by manufacturing, electricity production and domestic use. Water is a key factor in industrial operations and will impact the economy greatly if a shortage was ever to occur.
About ten months ago, I joined Arcadis as a Wastewater/Water Engineer supporting their Water for Industry group. Albeit a small niche group composed of 30 full time industrial water experts along with support from over 300 Arcadian professionals, the group has thrived from its founding back in 2012 with a value of just few million dollars to a current value proposition of 30 million dollars.
As the name implies, Water for Industry (WFI) group works beyond just municipalities clients, broadening their outreach to various industrial clients. Because after all, water is just as heavily utilized in the private sector than it is in the public sector. Coming from a process background and having worked in the chemical manufacturing and construction industries, I see a substantial value in expanding Arcadis’s water expertise in this ever-growing market. This market can include but not limited to life sciences, automotive, pharmaceutical, freight rail, oil and gas, and chemical sectors.
For many industrial clients, the notion that water is ‘cheap’ still holds and frankly it will take quite some convincing to prove otherwise. Utilizing the Water Kaizen Blitz, a water conservation process developed by Arcadis, the true cost of water is presented. This true cost considers energy, transportation, and other associated costs that takes water from point A to point B in a certain process. What was thought as cheap in the beginning, will alter once you take all these factors into account.
I had the opportunity a couple months ago to participate in presenting water conservation efforts to a chemical manufacturing client of which coincidentally was a previous employer of mine. The common 3 Rs principle – Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle was utilized to identify alternatives and solutions to minimize water and energy usage for their facility. This can be achieved for example by replacing a broken or inefficient equipment, adding a recycle stream, treating effluent streams, and/or reducing flow rates. Quantifying these recommendations into dollar values creates the business case on the feasibility of these conservation efforts.
While visiting some family in the Netherlands, I saw a chance to network with our Dutch WFI colleagues to get an insight on the projects they are working on and how they are delivering WFI projects. I visited the Amersfoort office where we shared and exchanged experiences working with clients in Europe and North America. Some outcomes of this exchange were how we can improve on attracting industrial clients to participate in water conservation studies and tips on working efficiently with the GEC group.
Since my start at Arcadis, my projects have also encompassed evaluation and process modifications of wastewater treatment plants to improve efficiency of diesel removal in waste water streams for various freight railyard facilities in North America.
These are just some examples of the many projects WFI is involved with and I look forward to applying my skill sets to help contribute a water sustainable future.
By Roxann West