Reducing Water Consumption on Ships

Many private and government-owned ferry systems and ship lines have become members of Green Marine. The goal of this organization is to help carriers reduce their environmental footprint, which includes reducing water consumption. 


Taking steps to reduce water consumption—onboard vessels and at terminals - is pivotal because it can result in many benefits, among them are the following:

•    The size of both the fresh and waste water tanks can be reduced, providing more space for other uses on the vessel.

•    If less water is used or stored onboard, the vessel can be put into service for longer periods, traveling greater distances.

•    Less fresh water and wastewater onboard reduces the weight of the vessel; a lighter craft means less fuel is needed.

•    When less fuel is required, emissions are reduced—another green goal—and fuel costs likely will decrease.

“Fortunately, there are a variety of ways that ships, large and small, can reduce water consumption,” says Klaus Reichardt, CEO of Waterless Co., manufacturer of no-water urinal systems. “This means less water is used and less water is wasted.”

One of the oldest and largest ferry operators in North America has already made significant steps to reduce water consumption. Among they are the following:

•    Installed high-efficiency toilets that use about 1.25 gallons of water per flush

•    Replaced water-using urinals with waterless urinals.

•    Swapped out bathroom faucets so instead of using three gallons of water per minute, they are releasing less than one

•    Started a pilot program to collect rainwater for irrigating vegetation onboard the ferry.

Dollars and Cents

Let’s investigate some dollar and cents reasons for reducing water consumption. One of the most important is cost savings. According to one report, “an average cruise ship with 3,000 passengers and crew produces about 21,000 gallons of sewage per day — enough to fill 10 backyard swimming pools in a week.”

“When it comes to dollars and cents, the significant cost factor is not purchasing the water, but disposing of wastewater,” says Reichardt. “If a U.S. vessel travels to a foreign port, removing the wastewater is often treated as a tax by the foreign government, and these ‘taxes’ can be exorbitant.”

As a result, the less water a vessel uses, the less wastewater it will carry, and the lower these charges will likely be.

Ways to Reduce Water Consumption

Water conservation steps can help significantly. Reichardt recommends that the following steps be taken:

•    Conduct a water audit: “The goal of a water audit is to determine exactly where water is being used, where it is wasted, such as with leaks, or where it can be reduced. A water audit should be conducted every two years.”

•    Install pressurized or vacuum-assisted flush toilets: These toilets use additional air pressure to remove waste.  This reduces water consumption considerably.

•    Install aerators: “One of the least costly and most effective water efficiency steps to take, aerators should be installed in every faucet and shower,” he explains.

•    Upgrade water-using kitchen appliances: Water using devices should be replaced with ENERGY STAR-certified systems that use far less water than older, more traditional appliances.

•    Install waterless urinals. This step alone will save thousands of gallons of water per urinal each year.

For more information on water reducing strategies, please contact a Waterless Co representative at 800-244-6364.