COLLECTING INTELLIGENCE:

Leduc gets the drop on eco-friendly water system

When Leduc Bus Lines built its new garage facility in Rockland, Ontario, about two years ago, technicians noticed something odd: The well water they were using to wash coaches was staining the vehicles — and staining them badly. "It got to the point that we were drying the buses by hand," says Ghislain Leduc, vice president of the company.

Mr. Leduc knew something had to be done. After pricing a filtration system and realizing it would be both expensive and wasteful, he decided it would make a lot of sense to collect rainwater from the roof of the 13,000-square-foot garage. After doing his research, which included a certain amount of time watching the Discovery Channel, he called a firm that configured a simple, economic system to meet the company's needs.

Today, a 7,000-gallon tank collects water from about 60 percent of the roof — more than enough to wash the coaches. "We actually had too much water this summer," says Leduc. "It's also saved us a lot of headaches. If we had city water, we'd have to have a meter. And with the hard water, we would be changing taps after two years."

Mr. Leduc is sold on both the environmental benefits —and the fiscal ones. The water-collection system will likely pay for itself within its first year. "If I could rebuild the garage tomorrow, I would look into windmills, an even bigger water system, geothermal and other renewable resource technologies," he says. Not that the company has been slacking. The garage recycles everything that it can, from tires to fluids. Even waste  water from the shop floor is redirected to a system that separates out impurities and sends the water to a lagoon to be naturally filtered and returned to the earth.

Mr. Leduc knows that some environmentally friendly technologies are still out of reach for most garages. While solar systems might be enough to run office lights, they probably would not be able to power hydraulics and other high-draw equipment. But he is seriously considering adding another, smaller water-collection tank to service the office side of the facility.

The company is looking into solutions for the winter, when it will be too cold to collect water with the system as currently configured. Says Mr. Leduc, "We'll probably empty the tank and use the well water for now. But I have others of ideas for the future."

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