Hartsfield-Jackson looking at ways to conserve during drought
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 10/29/07
The world's busiest airport will consider everything from faster flushes for its 1,000 or so toilets to recycling water from its giant chillers as it makes plans to weather the current drought.
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Officials with Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport will meet Wednesday along with representatives of its major airlines to refine water conservation efforts and plan for the possibility of an even drier future.
One of the more creative ideas: Adjust the automatic sensors in Hartsfield-Jackson's public restrooms so they use less water.
"We're trying to set them to the lowest setting without compromising flushing," airport spokesman Herschel Grangent said.
About 86 million passengers a year pass through Hartsfield-Jackson, which has 78 public restrooms with 725 commodes, 338 urinals and 601 sinks.
The airport is one of the state's biggest water users — No. 8 in total usage. The central passenger terminal alone uses an average of 917,000 gallons of water a day, Grangent said.
Kim Vagher, executive director of the Atlanta Airlines Terminal Corporation, said officials have already reduced the amount of water used per flush but are seeking even more reductions. Some of the sensors are so sensitive that "if you hang out in a stall too long you get three of four flushes," he said.
Airport officials also are looking at ways to reclaim and recycle water from the terminal's massive chillers. The chillers are used to reduce humidity and cool the air inside the 5.8 million square foot terminal.
There are no firm numbers yet, but Vagher said there are initial indications the airport could save 8 million to 10 million gallons of water a year by reclaiming water from the chillers.
The airport already has curtailed some water use — it no longer pressure-washes curbs and walkways — but Grangent said officials are looking for additional ways to save water as the drought lingers. Grangent said airport water supplies are in good shape at this point, but officials want to maximize any savings going forward.
Officials might even consider ways to recover runoff from the airport's ramps and runways for reuse.
"If it's still usable, we'll look at ways to recycle it," Grangent said.
Delta Air Lines, Hartsfield-Jackson's largest carrier, has instituted numerous water-saving measures and is looking for more, airline spokesman Kent Landers said.
"We have a whole team of people figuring out what else what we can do," Landers aid. "It's an ongoing conversation."
Landers said Delta, which employs 25,000 people in Georgia, has started a "leak patrol" to search for any water loss at its airport facilities.
"They look for any leaky faucets and valves anywhere at Hartsfield-Jackson that can be fixed or turned off," he said.
The airline is installing meters on the water carts that fill special reservoirs aboard aircraft with potable water used for airliner sinks.
"A lot of airlines have just filled the reservoirs until they run over," Landers said. "Now we're metering the water to make sure they only put on a certain number of gallons."
A Boeing 777 can carry up to 327 gallons. But once the meters are fully installed, that can be reduced to less than 200 gallons, Landers said. A 767-300 can carry up to 160 gallons, but the meters can reduce that to 120 gallons.
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