Determining the True Cost of Water

Your Facility’s First Step in Managing a Finite Resource
Nov 11, 2020 10:20 AM ET

Determining the True Cost of Water

Over the past few months, we’ve provided guidance and resources on how to identify, properly scope out, and implement facility optimization projects. We also looked at raising the sustainability bar by considering solar energy. With this blog, we complete our facility optimization series by discussing water. More specifically, how it’s used, how to establish its true cost and how to conserve it.

“We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.”  ― Thomas Fuller

Understand How Much Water You Are Using

The first step in water saving practices is to determine why and how water is being used. A simple water balance diagram like the one shown below can help you visualize how water is sourced, used and discharged at your facility. You can start by gathering the water bills from the past 12 months – for both incoming (withdraw) and outgoing (discharge) water. If you have well water or other sources of water, collect the usage and cost of those too. Same for the outgoing water, if you discharge water to a stream, determine the quantity. Is there a cost to maintain a permit to discharge the water to the stream? If so, gather that cost.

With the bills collected, enter date, usage quantity, and cost, into a spreadsheet. Compare the quantity of incoming water with the quantity of discharged water -- do they match? If not, investigate why and make a note of it.

Next, walk through your facility and gather information on how the water is used once it enters the building. The most common categories of water usage are:

  • Production
  • Utilities
  • Sanitation
  • Employee Needs
  • Irrigation
  • Other Uses (industry-specific)

If you don’t have precise numbers, from a water sub-meter for example, estimate the usage to the best of your knowledge. One good method is using the equipment specifications to determine the quantity of water needed to operate the equipment. Remember, you do not need perfect numbers to make this a valuable effort.

Establish the True Cost of Water

Traditionally, the cost of water is calculated using the incoming water bill plus the sewer water bill. However, these costs may only represent 25-50 % of the true cost of water for a facility, especially a manufacturing facility... Read full article here and get your data collection workbook on Antea Group's Blog.

About Antea Group

Antea Group is an international engineering and environmental consulting firm specializing in full-service solutions in the fields of environment, health and safety, infrastructure, urban planning, and water. By combining strategic thinking and multidisciplinary perspectives with technical expertise and pragmatic action, we do more than effectively solve client challenges; we deliver sustainable results for a better future. With more than 3,200 employees in over 90 offices around the world, we serve clients ranging from global energy companies and manufacturers to national governments and local municipalities. Antea Group is a founding member of Inogen Alliance, a global network of independent consulting companies that are together by choice to collaborate around the world on EHS projects for a consistent client experience. Learn more at