The Ultra-HydroKleen, from Chemtech

Stormwater represents a major headache for businesses. Across the eastern United States — basically, anywhere to the east of the Continental Divide — the majority of states receive between 40 and 60 inches of rain per year on average, with the rainiest state, Louisiana, exceeding even this. Of course, storms can happen anywhere, and when they do, stormwater infrastructure can quickly become overwhelmed.

This is already a major issue, and we still haven’t taken other factors into account. Stormwater runoff pollution causes serious disruption to communities and habitats across the country, and it may even cause irreparable damage. It is the responsibility of all business owners to make sure that their operations are environmentally sustainable and are not causing damage or disruption.

This is where something like stormwater management products can make all the difference. With a stormwater capture solution, excess rain deposited after a storm is no longer a problem and instead becomes an opportunity. Once stormwater is captured, treated, and stored, it becomes a resource that your business can draw upon, achieving a range of savings and other benefits in the process.

Stormwater capture is more cost-effective than wastewater reuse

Research carried out by the Pacific Institute in 2015 found that stormwater capture is considerably more economically viable, in most instances, than the reuse of wastewater. The research found that the median cost of stormwater capture was between $0.48 and $1.23 per cubic meter of water. Wastewater reuse, on the other hand, has a median cost of $1.25 per cubic meter. This means stormwater capture should be marginally cheaper than wastewater reuse at worst and significantly more cost-effective at best.

The savings become even more impressive when we compare costs with other types of water processing. Businesses located on the coast may find themselves using desalinated seawater for different applications within their facilities. This has a median cost of between $1.72 and $2.29 per cubic meter of water — significantly more than the respective costs of both stormwater capture and wastewater reuse.

In some instances, the cost of desalination may in fact be greater than the expense of paying to bring water in from other sources. Southern California, for example, has been relying upon the desalination of seawater for years, following the opening of the Poseidon Plant in San Diego County. In April 2016, officials in Carlsbad struck a deal to receive water directly from the Poseidon Plant in nearby San Diego — a deal that would see Carlsbad paying around $2,400 per acre-foot of water. This is around $1,000 more than the Carlsbad Municipality would spend on sourcing water from its own water district.

While this is a civic example and not directly applicable to industry, it does underline how cost-effective a stormwater solution can be. Businesses need a strong and reliable water supply, but they also have to be aware of the cost implications of this supply. Capturing water in this way ticks both boxes.

Stormwater capture has a range of different fringe benefits

Water supply is the primary aim of a stormwater capture project. When capturing stormwater, your business does not need to source this water from other locations and can utilize the supply of water you receive to carry out important functions, such as equipment cooling. However, there are other benefits, too.

Data from across California demonstrates the diverse impact that stormwater capture is having on businesses and communities in the state. As well as supplying necessary water, stormwater products are also helping to prevent flooding and associated damage by removing large volumes of water before it can overwhelm the local water table and infrastructure.

In addition to this, stormwater capture is being used to:

  • Improve local water quality by preventing stormwater runoff and eliminating chemical transmission into the local water table.
  • Create more sustainable habitats by managing stormwater release.
  • Save energy by reducing dependency on wastewater treatment and desalination.
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.

These represent just a few of the potential benefits of capturing and treating stormwater, but they do provide a useful indication of how viable the process can be for your facility. Increasingly, businesses need to frame their own objectives — and their own issues — in a broader context, which includes the wider community at large. Stormwater capture solutions help to achieve the sustainability required to exist as a forward-thinking, community-engaged organization.

Indirect savings can increase cost-effectiveness still further

The additional benefits we have discussed above are certainly great news for business owners and for members of the local community, but their impact does not end there. There are further cost savings to be made as a result of these benefits.

  • Local and federal governments impose heavy fines on businesses who cannot control stormwater runoff and other pollutants. Capture programs help to avoid these fines.
  • Local governments may offer financial incentives for businesses who adopt sustainable practices and who show themselves to be serious about environmental issues. Stormwater capture may help businesses to garner these incentives.
  • Energy is a major expense for businesses each year, and any initiative that helps to reduce energy costs will be welcomed by facility owners and managers.

When additional cost savings were taken into account, the overall expense of a stormwater capture project reduced even more. In some cases, the overall cost was reduced by 85%, resulting in a median expenditure of between $0.12 and $0.84 per cubic meter. At the more extreme end of the scale, the project paid for itself when the savings from additional benefits were factored in.

With the right approach to stormwater capture, you can revolutionize the way you deal with water

Putting the right stormwater solutions in place eliminates the dangers of runoff pollution and can see you and your business saving serious money in the process. The project may even pay for itself over time, making it easier to budget for necessary improvements. Turn the problem of stormwater into a genuine advantage and target increased sustainability for your operations in the future.