WaterSense at Work: Best Management Practices for Commercial and Institutional Facilities
Photographic and X-Ray Equipment
The traditional process of developing film can be quite water-intensive. Water is used
during both the image development and printing processes. In X-ray equipment, water
is sometimes also used for equipment cooling. Some X-ray film processing machines
require a constant stream of cooling water flowing at a rate from 0.5 to 2.5 gallons
per minute (gpm)
to as much as 3.0 to 4.0 gpm
to ensure acceptable image qual-
ity. Cooling water with a flow rate as low as 0.5 gpm can discharge more than 250,000
gallons of water annually. A number of advancements in X-ray technology, including
digital imaging, however, are reducing the need for this water-intensive process.
For more traditional film processing, developing and printing can
occur in a self-contained “mini-lab”with very little water use.
These changes also reduce or eliminate the need to use chemicals
in film processing. Dry printing processes similar to laser printing
are also available that do not use water.
Because of recent advances in imaging technology, many facilities
have moved to digital photographic or X-ray film processing and
computerized viewing and printing. Digital imaging has changed
the means by which images are recorded and printed and elimi-
nated the use of water entirely. X-ray equipment found at dental of-
fices and other places where small pictures are taken use very little
water for development. A typical dental office “wet” film processor
uses under 1.0 gallon of water per day.
If converting to digital imaging is not feasible, retrofitting existing equipment to recycle
the final rinse effluent as make-up for the developer/fixer solution can be a cost-effective
option to significantly reduce photographic or X-ray film processing water use.
Operation, Maintenance, and User Education
For optimum traditional photographic and X-ray equipment efficiency, consider the
Adjust the water flow to the film processor to flow at the minimum acceptable
flow rate specified by the equipment manufacturer. Post minimum flow rates near
the processor and educate users on how to adjust and operate the equipment.
Check the solenoid valve on the X-ray equipment cooling water to ensure it is
working properly and stop flow when the equipment is in standby mode. If nece
ssary, install a flow meter in the supply line to monitor flow from the equipment.
East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD). 2008.
WaterSmart Guidebook—A Water-Use Efficiency Plan Review Guide for New Businesses
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Energy Department (DOE), Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE), Federal Energy Management
Program (FEMP). May 2005.
Laboratories for the 21
Century: Best Practices, Water Efficiency Guide for Laboratories
EPA and DOE, EERE, FEMP,