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2007 — Environment
Better water management
In 2006, the Baie-Comeau aluminum smelter acquired a new flow meter that enabled it to precisely measure its water consumption. Previously, the plant had relied on estimates made by its water supplier, but had noted discrepancies between these estimates and its own calculations.
There are two main forms of water consumption at the smelter: industrial, in which water is used for cooling in casting and other industrial processes, and domestic, in which water is used for drinking and sanitation systems. The Baie-Comeau smelter has water management systems that enable it to recycle most of its industrial wastewater.
The new flow meter quickly demonstrated just how sizeable the gaps were between the supplier's estimates and the plant's actual consumption. In fact, after only three months of use, the new equipment showed that consumption was about 50% lower than estimated. Some initiatives to reduce water consumption contributed to this difference, but the results mainly proved just how imprecise the old measuring system was.
Alcoa has set an ambitious goal: to reduce its water consumption by 60% in 2009. Thanks to this new tool, the Baie-Comeau smelter will be able to more easily identify eventual leaks in its waterworks, to evaluate its progress, and to contribute to Alcoa's global goal.