Measuring Water Use

The objective is to obtain relevant and useful data, while using the minimum number of measurement points. While it is possible to measure every flow and sample everything, it is neither practical nor cost-effective.

The Bare Minimum – Take Readings from Water Meter

A basic usage baseline can be developed by tracking total water consumption week-to-week using a main water meter, and monitoring monthly costs through the water utility bill.

This will provide water data based on TOTAL use for the entire operation.


If you are designing or renovating your brewery, remember to design your plumbing so you can easily measure water use and collect samples.

Getting Better Data – Estimation Methods and Meters

In order to target and prioritize where to make improvements, more detailed information is required that captures water use at various points within the brewery (e.g. brewhouse or packaging)

Estimation Methods

Bucket and Timer:

  • Water use through a hose can be estimated by using a stop watch to measure how long it takes to fill a bucket or small tank with a known volume using a hose at normal flow. With this data, one can calculate average flowrate for that hose (i.e. L/minute).
  • To estimate water used for a given operation in the brewery, time how long the hose is in use and then convert that time into total water volume (e.g. total time (minute) x average flowrate (L/minute))

Filled Height in Tank:

  • Using the tank dimensions, the volume relative to a given tank level can provide a good estimate of water used.
Tank Volume Measurement
Tank Volume Measurement

Example Tank Height Calculation

Using the dimensions of the tank, it is possible to determine volume change for a given difference in tank level.

∆V =∆H x (π x D2)
1,000 x 4


∆V = change in volume (L)
∆H = change in level (cm)
D = tank diameter (cm)
π = 3.141592


There are a variety of meter types that can be utilized to obtain water flow and volume information. Care must be taken to ensure that the temperature and/or composition of the water being measured is compatible with the meter type being considered.

Simple mechanical accumulators can be an affordable option, especially on smaller supply lines.

Hose meters can be moved around the facility to measure water use in different activities.

Ultrasonic 'Transit Time' Meters

Write It Down – Record Your Water Use

It is important to record in an operating log not only the volume (meter reading or estimate) for a given activity, but also the number of activities.

Example: Every time the kettle is rinsed, the meter shows a range of 270 – 330 L used.

  • Recording this data provides a variety of operational insights, such as: water use per rinse (water use event), water use over a given timeframe (in this case a week), the wastewater generated per rinse, and how the water use varies by beer recipe as well as by employee doing the rinsing.
  • With this information, opportunities can be identified that support improved water and wastewater management.