5 Strategies To Improve Your Company’s Water Security

Water risk is the next resource frontier, and our water is in trouble. Amy Haddon of Schneider Electric shares suggestions for how businesses can act on water security and ensure the availability of water resources for years to come.



BY INDESIGNLIVE.SG

13 August, 2018


Water is arguably our most precious resource.  It is requisite for the survival of all life on our planet. It is also finite. While water is endlessly recyclable through the hydrologic cycle, there’s only so much of the stuff, and only about one per cent of it is freshwater that is usable for human consumption.

Beyond its fundamental role in our survival, water also plays a key function in any number of planetary and business activities. Water, (and the hydrologic cycle) is responsible for driving global weather patterns. Water is a primary ingredient in the creation of fossil-fuel-generated electricity.

Water is also essential for global food production and a crucial element in health and sanitation. It is used in many of the manufacturing processes that provide us with consumable goods. It allows us to ship these goods around the world.  It drives global tourism and provides a source of recreation and relaxation.

 

And our water is in trouble.

Water risk is the next resource frontier.

 

Globally, water faces numerous challenges that in turn are impacting business, namely:

  • There are already more than one billion people without access to adequate water, and demand is expected to increase by more than 50 per cent by 2050. Much of this future demand is attributable to the food resources that will be required to feed a growing population.
  • Water resources are under threat from a variety of pollutants, including pathogens, viruses, carbon dioxide, phosphates, and other toxins. These contaminants violate water safety, but also contribute to larger problems, such as the acidification of the oceans (which in turn destabilises oceanic ecosystems) and algal blooms.
  • An intrinsic part of the hydrologic cycle, global warming is accelerating evaporation. This, in turn, is resulting in an increased frequency, duration, and severity of drought.  Increased evaporation also leads to increased water vapour in the atmosphere, leading to more severe and less predictable precipitation.  These extreme evaporative events can have significant implications for business, disrupting operations and global supply chains.

The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) has found that water risk impacts nearly every industry sector. The good news is that businesses are coming to understand those risks.  In 2017, CDP saw a 193 per cent increase in companies disclosing their water risk and water security solutions.

We can reduce this resource risk with water security solutions. Here are five top suggestions for how businesses can act on water security and ensure the availability of water resources for years to come:

1. Measure and reduce your footprint. 

An important first step for any business is to determine its water consumption baseline and begin tracking utilisation, using a software like EcoStruxure™ Resource Advisor. Not every company uses water in the same way, and tracking utilisation helps businesses determine where and how to concentrate their reduction and efficiency efforts.

2. Rethink processes. 

A water audit can help identify where water is used in a business. But making a real change may require thinking beyond existing processes and products.

How can your business reimagine its use of water?  Are there steps in the production process that use water that could be reinvented, or even eliminated? Are there new, more efficient technologies that could help you achieve your water reduction goals? Could existing, water-intensive materials be replaced with other ingredients?

3. Invest in water recycling. 

Leading companies—including Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Alcoa, Gap Inc., and others—invest in, or work with suppliers who invest in, water recycling, collection, and treatment facilities as part of their operation.

Whether this includes collecting rainwater, repurposing grey water, or cleaning/filtering water for reuse, the results speak for themselves: with its Australian filtration system, Alcoa has been able to reduce freshwater withdrawals by more than 300 million gallons per year.

4. Set science-based carbon reduction targets. 

Global warming is a key driver behind many water challenges.  Acting as quickly as possible to reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases can help keep the impacts of global warming to a minimum and reduce evaporative stress on water resources. 

Companies can set a science-based carbon reduction goal to begin the process of decarbonising their operations at a level consistent with existing climate science.

5. Make the switch to renewable energy

Renewable energy is a primary means to achieve science-based carbon reduction goals. Renewables also help reduce water consumption because they require almost no water to produce or transport electricity.

To learn more about the strategies companies are deploying to cope with our planet’s finite resources, Schneider Electric invites you to download the new white paper.

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