Fort Worth

Who used the most water last year in Fort Worth — and why?

This is the water tower on Interstate 30 east of downtown Fort Worth.
This is the water tower on Interstate 30 east of downtown Fort Worth.

It all adds up.

Whether used in sprinkler systems, at breweries or in laboratories, 10 Fort Worth businesses last year used nearly 2.6 billion gallons of water.

At the top of the list: the MillerCoors Fort Worth brewery, Alcon Laboratories, the Fort Worth school district, Lockheed Martin and Texas Health Resources-R E Department, according to a review of data obtained through the Texas Open Records Act from the city of Fort Worth.

“We are not in a drought phase, but we have year-round limitations for residents and businesses,” said Mary Gugliuzza, a spokeswoman with the city’s water department. “Businesses have brought down their water use, to some extent, over time.

“It’s in their best bottom-line interest to bring down the water usage.”

Rounding out the top 10 businesses with the most water use in Fort Worth last year: TCU, Tarrant County, Premium WC Inc., Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. and the Zoological Association.

Even though Fort Worth and its water sources aren’t in a drought phase, officials ask businesses and residents alike to watch what they do — and be conservative in the water they use.

“We are asking people to be efficient with water use,” Gugliuzza said. “We want people to use the water that they need.

“We just need to make sure they aren’t inefficient, watering sidewalks, streets. If they want to water their grass, there’s a schedule to let them do it.”

Local water users

The Star-Telegram asked the city for a list of the top 50 local commercial water/wastewater users last year.

The list included businesses, colleges, hospitals, beverage producers, even the U.S. Bureau of Engraving (No. 27) and Federal Correctional Institution (31). Omni Hotels ranked 44th, the Texas Motor Speedway ranked 47th and Cintas Corporation came in at 50, data shows.

MillerCoors Fort Worth Brewery — which needs water to make its beer — was the top water user, buying 695 million gallons of water last year.

While the company is the top purchaser of local water — because, as company officials say, “without great water, you can’t make great beer” — they also return more than half of what they buy to the city.

Company officials note that they’ve reduced the amount of water used from 900 gallons in 2010 and they return 63 percent of water purchased to the city after pretreatment to be reused.

“Water is absolutely important to us,” said Lairy Johnson, the environmental and sustainability engineer at the Fort Worth brewery for MillerCoors. “Great water takes great responsibility. It drives everything here at the brewery.

“We understand that our product is water and we need to be very respectful of it.”

While it takes water to make their product, company officials have found a way to shrink the amount needed.

In 2016, it took about seven barrels of water to make a barrel of beer. Now it takes about 2.84, Johnson said.

Other top users

Alcon Laboratories was the second largest user of water last year, with 401 million gallons.

There are about 4,500 people who work at the Alcon campus and the bulk of the water is used for sanitary purposes — not just in the cafeteria and bathrooms, but also cleaning manufacturing equipment — as well as for heating and cooling about 3 million square feet of office and manufacturing facilities, said Wes Warnock, a spokesman for the company.

A good amount of the water also is used in the company’s manufacturing of contact lens care solution.

Alcon has put in place 15 water-saving projects over the past five years that now save about 24 million gallons of water each year, Warnock said.

The company, has reduced its water use by 7 percent the past 2 1/2 years, he said.

The Fort Worth school district rounded out the top three business water users, using 246 million gallons, according to the data.

“We use water for washing, cleaning, landscape, pool (and) getting water in schools to 85,000 kids and 10,000 employees in 143 schools who drink it and use it in restrooms,” said Clint Bond, a spokesman for the school district.

Water is also used for a variety of other functions at schools, such as for cooking, at athletic field houses, in some AC chillers and more.

“We are mindful of all our utility expenses and are always looking for ways to save taxpayer money whenever and wherever we can,” he said.

Top 10

Top 10 Fort Worth commercial/business users in 2017:

Miller Brewing Company: 695 million gallons

Alcon Laboratories: 401 million gallons

Fort Worth school district: 246 million gallons

Lockheed Martin: 222 million gallons

Texas Health Resources-R E Department: 210 million gallons

TCU: 196 million gallons

Tarrant County: 167 million gallons

Premium WC Inc.: 163 million gallons

Bell Helicopter Textron Inc.: 151 million gallons

Zoological Association: 148 million gallons

Anna Tinsley: 817-390-7610, @annatinsley

Caught on video: Fairmount homeowners thwart would-be car burglar with motion-activated water sprinkler. The video was taken July 4, 2018.