Chapter 11 -- National Handbook of Recommended Methods for Water Data Acquisition

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11.E.1. Description

Commercial water use includes water used by commercial facilities such as hotels, motels, restaurants, office buildings, government and military facilities, hospitals, educational institutions, and retail sales stores. Commercial water use in office buildings primarily is used for sanitation, maintenance, and aesthetic appeal. Specific uses of water include toilet flushing, air-conditioning, washing floors and other surfaces, fountains and lawn watering (fig. 5). Since lawn watering and air-conditioning use more water than sanitation or cleaning, commercial water use will be larger for business parks in a warm, dry climate with large areas of grass than in cooler, more humid areas. In addition, the age of the building will affect use. Old buildings may have large-volume-flow sanitary fixtures whereas new buildings commonly are constructed with low-flow fixtures designed to conserve water.

Commercial activities also take place in institutions, such as hospitals, prisons, and schools; and in resorts; hotels; motels; camp grounds; and restaurants, therefore, commercial uses of water also includes food preparation, pools, and laundries. Water used for snow making at ski resorts and in water parks are potentially large commercial uses. Offstream fish hatcheries primarily engaged in hatching fish for release to public lakes and streams for fishing also are classified as commercial use. The Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes included in this category are identified in table 3 along with the primary uses of water in each SIC code group. Water use on military bases generally can be subdivided into domestic and commercial uses.

Water-use activities in the commercial category include withdrawals from ground or surface water; deliveries from water suppliers; consumptive use in the form of evaporation, usually during outdoor use, but also from washwater and food preparation; release into wastewater-collection systems; and return flow.

11.E.2. Sources of commercial water-use information

Information on commercial water use may be available from (1) the State or local agency regulating withdrawals if permits or reports are required; (2) the State agency responsible for compliance to the Safe Drinking Water Act; (3) Commercial information bases; (4) State Departments of Employment or Economic Development; (5) professional associations; (6) the U.S. Bureau of the Census; (7) public water suppliers; (8) wastewater-treatment facilities; and (9) Chambers of Commerce. Individual users also are an important source of information.

Many states have developed regulatory permit programs or reporting requirements or both for commercial users withdrawing greater than a specified threshold. Commercial water-use information often can be obtained from the State regulatory agency in States where permits or registration are required.The Safe Drinking Water Act encompasses all sources of public drinking water, even transient use in self-supplied restaurants, motels, and other commercial buildings. See the public water-supply section for a more complete discussion. Many commercial establishments are listed in business directories. Dunn and Bradstreet Information Services maintain an information base of almost ten million industrial, commercial, mining, and other business locations in the United States, including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The information base contains geographical, sales, employee population, product, and contact information.

State Departments of Employment or Economic Development are possible sources of data on commercial users in their State. These data may include (1) descriptions of major commercial users in each community, and (or) total number of employees by SIC code for each community or county. Frequently, these data are based on data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, but may be significantly enhanced in some states.

There are many professional associations, such as for ski resorts, fish hatcheries, that maintain a list of members or possibly list of all such facilities in their area. These lists may be free or may require purchase.

The U.S. Bureau of the Census is required by law (Title 13 of the United States Code--section 131, 191, and 224) to take an economic census every 5 years, covering years ending in 2 and 7. These economic census consist of the Census of Retail Trade, Wholesale Trade, Service Industries, Transportation, Manufactures, Mineral Industries, and Construction Industries. The results of each of the economic census are available in printed reports, for sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office, and on microfiche, computer tape, compact discs with read-only memory, and flexible diskettes, for sale by the U.S. Bureau of the Census. The Census of Retail Trade, Wholesale Trade, and Service Industries contain such statistics as number of establishments, employment, payroll, operating expenses, and capital expenditures for each State and its important metropolitan areas, counties, and places, by SIC groups and individual users.

Commercial water-use data (deliveries, releases) are available from customer records maintained by public water suppliers and wastewater-treatment facilities. The records' section for public water supply and wastewater-treatment facilities also may know of commercial facilities in their area that have large self-supplied water withdrawals. Care must be taken to ensure that only commercial users are included, not medium domestic users (apartment buildings) or small industries, and to take into account that large commercial users may be included in the industrial groupings by public water suppliers because of the large meter size.

Chambers of Commerce are a possible source of names and addresses of local commercial users, especially users that are likely to attract tourists, such as zoos, ski areas, water parks, hotels, motels, and major restaurants.

Figure 5.

Figure 5. Diagram of commercial water use.

11.E.3. Measurement, estimation, and data-collection methods for commercial water use

Commercial water use can be divided into the following three main groups: (1) types of users that always use large volumes of water, such as fish hatcheries and snow making; (2) types of users that have large and small users, such as airports, hotels and resorts, shopping malls, hospitals, amusement parks, car washes, laundries, office buildings, and business parks; and (3) types of users that are small, such as restaurants, banks, stores, and shops. Each of these three groups requires a different approach. Primary data acquisition is important with the first group, secondary data acquisition is important with the second group, with small components of primary and derived data. Approaches using derived data are important with the third group.

Information on withdrawals from ground or surface water and major return flow may be available from State allocation and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting agencies. Data on deliveries from water suppliers and releases into wastewater-collection systems, as well as identification of major commercial users, may be available from the utilities. Consumptive use in the form of evaporation, usually during outdoor use but also from washwater and food preparation, are estimated from withdrawal, delivery, release, and return flow data or from information supplied by the commercial facility.

11.E.4. Commercial selected references

These references are supplemental to the ones in the General reference Section.

Bowen, R.L., Leung, PingSun, and Vesenka, M.H., 1984, Water-use coefficients and resource multipliers for Oahu, Hawaii: Honolulu, University of Hawaii and Manoa, Water Resources Research Center Technical Report no. 164, 36 p.

Dziegielewski, Benedykt, Rodrigo, D.M., Opitz, E.M., 1990, Commercial and industrial water use in Southern California (final report): Los Angeles, Planning and Management Consultants, Ltd., report for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, 56 p. and 5 appendixes.

Kim, J.R., McCuen, R.H., 1979, Factors for predicting commercial water use: Water Resources Bulletin, v. 15, no. 4, p. 1073-1080.

Lynne, G.D., Luppold, W.G., and Kiker, Clyde, 1978, Water demand by retail and service business establishments--Dade and Monroe Counties, Florida: Gainesville, University of Florida, Agricultural Experiment Station Technical Bulletin.

McCuen, R.H., Sutherland, R.C., and Kim, J.R., 1975, Forecasting urban water use--commercial establishments: American Water Works Association Journal, v. 67, no. 5, p. 239-244.

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