Keen on conservation

Darin Moriki
Posted 6/21/12

Exercising water conservation methods is a fact of life for Coloradans, but for Jim Beetham, it is serious business. As the owner of A Better …

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Keen on conservation


Exercising water conservation methods is a fact of life for Coloradans, but for Jim Beetham, it is serious business.

As the owner of A Better Carwash, Beetham has taken major steps to reduce the amount of water people use to wash their cars.

According to the International Carwash Association, nearly 140 gallons of water is wasted when people wash their cars at home. Beetham said that is more than half the water used for a single vehicle at his carwash locations in Golden and Arvada.

He said his operations reclaim nearly 20 percent of the water used during each car wash, then filter and reuse it during the same wash cycle.

“There are things about being in this business that make us want to protect the environment,” he said. “People are going to get their cars clean whether there’s a drought or not, and if they do it at home, they’re wasting water. Here, we’re conserving water.”

Beetham is not alone. As the state faces an increased demand for water resources in coming years, businesses, municipalities and government organizations are looking for innovative ways to cut their usage, and to increase supply.

Colorado’s 2010 Statewide Water Supply Initiative report, which analyzed the state’s current and future water needs, found that the state currently produces an average of 16 million acre feet per year, but estimates the state may need an additional 600,000 to 1 million acre feet per year by 2050 to match the demand.

One way researchers are pursuing to increase supply on a small scale is through cloud seeding, the process of dispersing substances, such as silver iodide or liquid propane, into the air to stimulate cloud changes and increase precipitation. Although it has been practiced statewide since the 1950s, new remote-controlled cloud-seeding machines show promise.

Joe Busto, who manages the state’s cloud-seeding operation for the Colorado Water Conservation Board, said these machines can shoot four times more silver iodide nuclei into the air, taking advantage of storms to boost precipitation.

“You talk more about it in a drought, but the time to really work is during wet years. You need a storm to come through to actually seed it,” Busto said. “You can’t cloud seed your way out of a drought, but you can add a few percentage points to snowpacks, so it’s more like an annual tool in your portfolio to help out.”

Golden-based MillerCoors, which needs water to brew beer, has been making strides to reduce the amount of water it uses and repurpose at last some of that water.

When MillerCoors began monitoring its water conservation efforts in 2008, the company recorded a usage of 4.1 barrels of water per barrel of beer. By 2015, company officials say, MillerCoors aims to decrease its water-efficiency ratio to 3.5 barrels of water to 1 barrel of beer.

To achieve this goal, the company has installed a water-efficient pasteurizer at the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company in Chippewa Falls, Wis., and equipment in its Milwaukee brewery to cool and reuse water for bottle pasteurization.

“Water is our most important resource and key to a secure future for our business and the communities where we operate,” former MillerCoors Chief Executive Officer Leo Kiely said when the comany was ramping up effort in 2010. “For years, our goal has been to brew and package more beer while using less water. Given our roots near the Rocky Mountains and on the shores of Lake Michigan, we are mindful of our environmental footprint and take water very seriously.”


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