While global industry grows more concerned about water availability, airports remain huge water users

Airports are large users of water, not only for the passengers in the terminals but also for aeronautical uses. Deicing planes in the winter uses an enormous volume of water, including the deicing fluid contamination. Airports have the problems of safely removing and disposing of contaminated water, without damage to local water courses – but of the sheer volume they use. This is particularly acute in areas of water shortage, and in  periods of drought. Articles in the Financial Times highlight the concerns of some large industries about the cost and availability of water, for their future profitability. They also make the point that water is not valued highly enough, and as it tends to be so cheap, it is wasted and over-used.  Airports know, for their sustainability strategies, that they have to cut water consumption. But the amounts they use are vast.  Heathrow used some 2,170 million litres of water in 2013. That is about the same as the usage of 31,000 families of four, with medium usage.  In 2009 Gatwick used some 1,059 million litres. In 2011 Stansted used some 410 million litres.



Stansted 615 million litres of water in 2010 and 410 million litres in 2011



Airports use significant volumes of water, and need to manage the release of waste water into sewage systems and local water courses to reduce the risk of environmental impact.
At Heathrow, we are committed to managing water sustainably by sourcing it responsibly, controlling use and efficiency, carefully managing the disposal of water, and monitoring our impacts on the surrounding environment.
Our Ambition: Manage our water sustainably by sourcing responsibly, controlling efficiency, managing disposal, and monitoring our impacts.

No airport water incidents affecting local rivers and lakes each year
Performance: Heathrow caused no water quality environmental incidents in 2012 or 2013


Reduce water consumption per passenger by 2020
Performance: Heathrow achieved a 3% reduction in water consumption per passenger from 0.032 M3 in 2012 to 0.031 M3 in 2013 (ie 31 litres per pax).”

[ 0.031 m3 per pax and 70 million pax.
ie. 2.17 million m3 of water.
ie (x 1000 conversion factor) 2170 million litres per year. ]



Water consumption

2008      1,058,000 m3
2009      1,059,000 m3

ie. 1,059 million litres


Manchester Airports Group

Mains Water Consumption by MAG (Manchester Airports Group)

2007/08 ……908,992
2008/09 ……875,223
2009/10 ……942,857



Average household use of water in the  UK

Average household use, for a household of 4 people
110 to 210 (low, medium and high) m3 per year. ie. 110,000 litres to 210,000 litres.
Medium is 165 m3 = 165,000 litres.

Data from http://www.ccwater.org.uk/savewaterandmoney/averagewateruse/

Comparing Heathrow’s water use with domestic water use

Dividing Heathrow’s water use by the average for a household of 4 people is 2,170,000,000 divided by 165,000 = 13,150 households.


July 14, 2014 

Nestlé warns water scarcity ‘more urgent’ than climate change

Some extracts: 


Nearly 20 years after the World Bank began warning of a looming water crisis, the combination of a surging population, a growing global middle class and a changing climate is straining water supplies. For companies – from multinational corporations to small businesses – this amounts to higher costs for a resource that has long been taken for granted.
“The marginal cost of water is rising around the world,” says Christopher Gasson, publisher of Global Water Intelligence. “Previously, water was treated as a free raw material. Now, companies are realising it can damage their brand, their credibility, their credit rating and their insurance costs. That applies to a computer chipmaker and a food company as much as a power generator or a petrochemicals company.”
The number of water-related conflicts reported worldwide has surged in the past 15 years, according to the Pacific Institute, a water research group. US intelligence officials have also raised concerns about the risk of conflict over water. “We assess that during the next 10 years, water problems will contribute to instability in states important to US national security interests,” said a 2012 intelligence report prepared for the US State Department.
That report highlighted the risk to global food markets from the rapid depletion of one crucial source: groundwater.

World leaders must make water scarcity a bigger priority than climate change because the problem is far more urgent than global warming, the chairman of one of the world’s biggest food companies has warned.

“Water scarcity is finally starting to bite financially,” said Andrew Metcalf, an investment analyst. In a report last year for Moody’s, the credit rating agency, Mr Metcalf said the problem already had “credit-negative implications” for the mining industry.

Mr Brabeck said it was wrong to blame global warming for water scarcity, however. “We have a water crisis because we make wrong water management decisions,” he said, explaining that water was so undervalued it was wasted and overused.

Full FT article at http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/8e42bdc8-0838-11e4-9afc-00144feab7de.html#slide0


and FT Series: A World Without Water at http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/8e42bdc8-0838-11e4-9afc-00144feab7de.html#slide0





Webpage on water use and water saving at San Francisco airport



Webpage on water use and water saving at Melbourne airport



Webpage on water use and water saving at Sydney airport