THE DROUGHT: Water plan to be refined at airport

The world's busiest airport will consider everything from faster flushes for its 1,000 or so toilets to recycling water from its giant chillers as it makes plans to weather the current drought.

Officials with Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport will meet Wednesday with representatives of its major airlines to refine water conservation efforts and plan for the possibility of an even drier future.

One of the more creative ideas: Adjust the automatic sensors in Hartsfield-Jackson's public restrooms so they use less water.

"We're trying to set them to the lowest setting without compromising flushing," said airport spokesman Herschel Grangent.

About 86 million passengers a year pass through Hartsfield-Jackson, which has 78 public restrooms with 725 commodes, 338 urinals and 601 sinks.

The airport is one of the state's biggest water users --- No. 8 in total usage. The central passenger terminal alone uses an average of 917,000 gallons of water a day, Grangent said.

Airport officials also are looking at ways to reclaim and recycle water from the terminal's massive chillers. The chillers are used to reduce humidity and cool the air inside the 5.8 million-square-foot terminal.

The airport already has curtailed some water use --- it no longer pressure washes curbs and walkways --- but Grangent said officials are looking for additional ways to save water as the drought lingers. Grangent said airport water supplies are in good shape at this point, but officials want to maximize any savings going forward.

Officials might even consider ways to recover runoff from the airport's ramps and runways for reuse.

"If it's still usable, we'll look at ways to recycle it," Grangent said.

Delta Air Lines, Hartsfield-Jackson's largest carrier, has instituted numerous water-saving measures and is looking for more, said airline spokesman Kent Landers.

"We have a whole team of people figuring out what else what we can do," Landers aid. "It's an ongoing conversation."

Landers said Delta, which employs 25,000 people in Georgia, has started a "leak patrol" to search for any water loss at its airport facilities.