Businesses That Care

Owens Corning

Owens Corning, the fiberglass manufacturing processor in Kansas City, Kansas, is one example of an industry that has successfully implemented water conservation practices. Owens Corning’s manufacturing process has been very water-intensive over recent decades. In addition to significant city water consumption, well water was readily and inexpensively available and was used for many things including non-contact cooling of chemical storage tanks. Since well water was considered cheap and effective it was utilized for a multitude of uses around the facility for cooling, washing and for “insurance” in a few applications.

The Kansas City plant water reduction journey began about a decade ago when some very rough data was used for a study. Owens Corning then began setting some targets for water reduction across the company as it focused on reducing its “footprint.” All of the dedicated conservation efforts have led to Owens Corning being recognized within the local, state and national communities for water reduction, as well as other environmentally focused projects. An additional bonus to the conservation efforts has led to large reductions in both the water and sewer costs to the facility.

SureFire Ag Systems

Water where you need it is a concept that entrepreneurs in Kansas such as SureFireAg Systems (previously FirstWater Ag, Inc.) make a reality for producers in agricultural water use and crop production environments. The customized zone control irrigation systems at SureFire Ag Systems gives producers greater control and precision in the application of water by creating individually controlled watering zones and times along the length of an irrigation machine. This allows producers to treat variable parts of the field with different amounts of water. The SureFire Ag Systems zone control system dates back to commercialization in 2001 when it was first used on the market and has been a pioneering leader in this technology.

The system can be retrofit onto virtually any brand or any age of center pivot or lateral irrigation machine. With past systems installed in many states more precise control of irrigation water can benefit many different geographies and production environments. The University of Georgia research has shown water savings of 8-20% annually all while producing equal or better crop yields and reducing pumping costs. A SureFire Ag Systems system in a field during the winter is projected to cut irrigation water use by 25% and save an estimated 40 million gallons per year in just one field. SureFire Ag Systems places a high value on relationships with customers and partners in finding ways to work together in managing water more efficiently. Tools and strategies will continue to be developed that meet the needs of irrigated producers as well as steward the Ogallala-High Plains Aquifer and all other water resources.

Spirit AeroSystems & City of Wichita

Spirit AeroSystems fabricates thousands of detailed parts and assemblies that require large volumes of water. The company also uses water to cool dozens of autoclaves and expansive air compression systems across its 600-acre campus in association with specialized manufacturing processes and cooling towers. Prior to the public/private collaboration with the City of Wichita, Spirit had already made significant investments in its own recycled water infrastructure. Spirit has been recycling about two million gallons of water per day using its internal reverse osmosis system. But Spirit wanted to do even more to improve its factory efficiency and to conserve water all while building more and more aerospace structures for its customers.

In December 2015, Spirit announced a collaboration with the City of Wichita to build a two-mile dedicated pipeline connecting the company’s manufacturing operations to a city water treatment facility. Combined with its internal reverse osmosis water recycling program, the new pipeline will allow Spirit to use on average more than three million gallons of recycled water each day. Spirit is grateful to Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell and the Wichita City Council for their collaborative and innovative approach to conserving up to 500 million gallons of water per year for long-term benefits to the Wichita community and the state of Kansas.



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