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How Hospitals Can Save Water and Big Bucks Too

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, April 23, 2012

It may seem odd that a leading proponent for water conservation in hospitals works in Washington, a state famous for its prodigious rainfall.

For more than a decade, Geoffrey W. Glass, director of Facility and Technology Services at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, has been finding ways to dramatically cut water use and waste. Through simple, economical, and incremental steps, the water conservation program has saved the 390-bed hospital at least $250,000 a year.

"We pay a penny a gallon to purchase water and to dispose of it, so we use the mantra that every gallon of water we see going down the drain is a penny of cost," Glass tells HealthLeaders Media.

"When we started this campaign we were consuming about 62,203,000 gallons of water a year in 1999. We consumed 31,188,000 gallons in 2010 gallons. That is just straight utility consumption, even though in the last decade our campus has grown about 15%."

At Providence St. Peter, Glass says, water is a precious resource both from an economic and an environmental perspective. "We are blessed to have probably the most sustainable supply of water in the United States. But we have other problems. For example all of our wastewater goes into Puget Sound, and as such it's challenging when we introduce pollutants and it's difficult to flush them out," he says. "In addition, through federal mandates the requirements to treat sewer water have generated huge costs. We have been seeing 10% to 15% rate increases for the last decade, to where our sewage costs have doubled in 10 years."

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