Special Investigation: Top 10 Commercial Water Users in Midland

By Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - Over the last year, water has been a huge concern for everyone in the Basin. For the first time ever, cities like Midland and Odessa started water restrictions to cut back on their usage.

But the drought isn't letting up anytime soon and NewsWest 9 wanted to see who's using the most water.

In this special investigation, we show you who they are and how much they're using.

The grocery store, the hospital, and a uniform rental company. Three very different services but they all have one thing in common, they all use a lot of water.

Here's the list for the top ten commercial water users in Midland.

#1 - Midland Memorial - 2,246,000 gallons
#2 - Memorial Hospital - 2,141,000 gallons
#3 - Memorial Hospital - 2,121,000 gallons
#4 - H.E.B. Grocery Store - 1,544,000 gallons
#5 - Culligan Soft Water - 1,250,000 gallons
#6 - Fasken Midland LLC - 1,167,000 gallons
#7 - Cintas Corporation - 1,023,000 gallons
#8 - The Summit Building - 941,000 gallons
#9 - Sierra Spring Water - 836,000 gallons
#10 - Midland Care Group - 827,000 gallons

These numbers are from February meter reads, and although they're high, Steve Thorpe with the City of Midland said it's not surprising for large companies.

Look at Midland Memorial Hospital. Their campuses take the top three spots.

"The hospital is open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day," Thorpe said. "There's stuff going on so you just can't make it unilateral across the board."

Midland Memorial used a total of over 6.5 million gallons of water in February.

The hospital is one of the city's biggest employers. They said they're well aware of the amount of water they're using.

"It's affected by the census within the hospital, how many patients we have, how many employees we have on any given day," Antonio Suarez said.

Suarez, the Midland Memorial Hospital Facility Services Director, said there are several reasons for using this much water.

Cooling their buildings is a big factor.

"Use water for cooling of the building through cooling towers, make up water for the boilers," Suarez said.

Another huge chunk of that water is used to keep their surgical instruments clean.

"We convert that water to steam to get it at high temperature to sterilize the equipment," Suarez said. "That equipment is running continuously."

Keeping the hospital up to city and state standards requires a lot of water too.

"Wash the dishes at certain temperatures, so dishwashers also use a lot of water," he said.

Number four on the top ten list is HEB. They used over 1.5 million gallons of water in February.

The grocery store told NewsWest 9 the water they use is directly connected to the products and services provided to their customers.

Just like Midland Memorial, sanitation in their business is crucial.

In a statement HEB said, "These include cooler and refrigeration case sanitation, multiple three compartment sink usage, hand washing areas as well as our high pressure spray dispenser systems for sanitizing in our bakery, Spoonz, deli, seafood and meat market departments."

Number five on the list is the Culligan Water Company.

According to their website, they've been in business for over 75 years providing water treatment services to West Texas.

They used over 1.2 million gallons in February.

With so much water being used, are these businesses doing anything to conserve? The answer is yes.

Midland Memorial recently installed two new water wells on their sites and one more is on the way.

"Over a years time if you look at 2011 data, it could potentially save us 12 million gallons of water," Suarez said.

He said the new patient tower was built with water conservation in mind.

"The whole tower has newer technology, not only the faucets but the commodes use less water every time they flush," Suarez said.

Two 30,000 gallon harvesting tanks are sitting on top of the hospital to catch rain water for irrigation.

And speaking of irrigation, "We are purchasing approximately 3,700 gallons of water a week at a substantial cost from a landscaping company who is getting the water from their wells," Suarez said.

The hospital has also changed its look outside by xeriscaping.

HEB is doing the same. They've installed drip irrigation systems for their trees.

The store says they plan to upgrade all restroom fixtures with low flow models and upgrade they're already efficient high pressure spray dispenser systems with low flow nozzles.

Although they declined to give a statement, Culligan said they are also aware of their usage and they continue to monitor how much water they're using each month.

"Here at Midland Memorial, I think we try to be good stewards of the community resources and we are still trying to learn ourselves and trying to explore," Suarez said.

Steve Thorpe said with that mindset, the city is headed in the right direction.

"We've been very good, Midland has really stepped up to the plate," Thorpe said.