By Joel Hall
At 917,000 gallons of water used per day, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the eighth-largest user of water in the City of Atlanta.
In the wake of state mandates to reduce water usage, due to last year's drought, the airport is dramatically scaling back its consumption.
The Atlanta Airlines Terminal Corporation (AATC), responsible for the facilities maintenance of the facility's terminals and concourses, is aiming to save 44 million gallons of water per year. Kim Vagher, AATC executive director, said the corporation is seeking ways to reduce water usage, as well as reclaim water which the airport is already using.
"The rest rooms are a big user," he said. According to the airport's web site, Hartsfield-Jackson has 78 public rest rooms, which house 725 toilets, 338 urinals, and 601 sinks.
Vagher said the AATC is presently "90 percent complete" in replacing the one-gallon valves on all of the airport's urinals with new half-gallon valves made by the Japanese toilet and bath fixture manufacturer, TOTO, Inc.
The simple and inexpensive replacement will reduce the amount of water urinals in the airport use by 50 percent.
In two months, Vagher added, the airport will begin the process of replacing all of it's toilets, which currently flush at 1.6 gpf (gallons per flush), with high-efficiency toilets that flush at 1.28 gpf. The replacement will reduce the amount of water used by toilets in the airport by 20 percent.
The AATC also identified two large chiller towers -- one which cools the C, D, and E concourses and the other which cools the north and south terminals, the Atrium, and the T, A, and B concourses -- as places where a tremendous amount of water is lost through evaporation.
Vagher said the AATC is researching how to reuse cooling water which is circulated through the cooler to the top of the towers.
Vagher said the estimated savings by reusing the water from the two towers alone would be about 7.2 million gallons a year, saving the airport approximately $117,000 in water costs.
In all, the modifications at the airport should reduce the airport's water usage by 15 percent, Vagher said.
In addition to cutting back on water usage, the airport and various airlines have been educating their employees about conserving water, he said.
Vagher said airport employees use 2.37 million gallons of water per month, compared to all of the airport's passengers, who use only 1.35 million gallons per month.
"All the leadership of the airport, all the way up to Ben DeCosta [general manager of the airport] is very cautious of the environmental issues," said Vagher. "We want to have a good stewardship of the environment."