A rainwater harvesting bus wash system that reduces the use of cleaning products and conserves drinking water in Guelph, Ontario, earned a Water’s Next national award for water advocacy, in the category of Projects and Technology—Stormwater.
Since its launch in 2012, Guelph has saved more than one million litres of drinking water in the process of washing buses—enough to fill four Olympic-sized swimming pools.
Capture and use of this water source provides many benefits including lower operational costs, local flood protection and reduced strain on stormwater management systems. The city found that installing spray nozzles reduced water use alone by 25 per cent (1.9 million litres per year) with less than a year payback.
“We rely on a groundwater supply in Guelph, and we need to be smart about how we use water—at home, at work and at our City facilities,” said Emily Stahl, manager of technical services for the City’s Water Services department. “It makes sense to match the water supply provided with the use, and naturally soft rainwater is better for washing buses, and cars at home too.”
Reducing stormwater runoff and the amount of cleaning products are other benefits. Washing with naturally soft rainwater uses less cleaning product than washing with the City’s naturally hard drinking water.
Guelph added more rainwater collection capacity in 2016, and now has enough rainwater stored for all final rinsing of its buses. In 2016, the city saved 548,000 litres of water by using rain water for bus washing, for a water cost savings of almost $2,000, on top of the savings achieved from the water-efficient spray nozzles (3,150,000 litres) and savings from the reduction in pumping and treatment of the drinking water supply.
“This award is shared with Enviro-Stewards Inc. who helped us develop the system, and the province for recognizing the potential of this project and providing funding to help realize it,” said Stahl. “And we are really pleased to work with our Guelph Transit team; their support for this project was invaluable.”