Water conservation and management
Stewardship of our water resources is essential to our environment and health. The energy needed to heat, move and treat water also impacts two of our key performance targets: energy use and our carbon footprint. Our business is not water-use intensive, but we can do our part where it counts. Our water stewardship management efforts are designed to reduce water consumption and minimize our impact on water quality.
Most of the water we use is for restrooms, irrigation and cooling and maintenance activities to support our facilities. We are taking the first steps to set targets and better understand our water footprint and consumption patterns. We estimated our 2008 and 2009 water use by using expenditures and unit cost. Beginning in 2010, we expanded the data collection capabilities of our national utility management system to include actual facility water use data. In 2011, we added over 1,600 facilities into the system to improve our water use estimates.
We have taken a more direct approach to reducing our impact on water quality. According to the EPA, nonpoint source pollution remains the nation’s largest source of water degradation. This type of pollution occurs from rainfall and snowmelt, or when irrigation picks up pollutants and deposits them into bodies of water. It is less noticeable and tends to happen slowly, so it is more difficult to control.
Runoff from postal fleet vehicle washing may negatively affect water quality. It may contain detergents, grit, sediments and vehicle fluids that can be released into the environment. To mitigate these impacts, our centralized contract services require all vehicle washing contractors to use wash water recovery and waste water disposal as part of their service.
Learn more about nonpoint source pollution at the U.S. EPA website: http://water.epa.gov/polwaste/nps/outreach/point1.cfm.