Although this story focuses mostly on large corporations, it is essential to consider our regional and state water availability in a national and international context.
We’re all operating on the same planet with a limited and dwindling supply of this most precious resource. The biggest users of water are businesses in energy, chemicals, and industrial businesses, as well as agriculture. We are here, in that same mix, using the same supply.
According to Ms. Gustke, more and more businesses are starting to find ways to reduce their water use— but not before they’ve had to close the doors on some of their operations. Coca Cola and Pepsi have closed down bottling plants in India due to water shortages. A study by KMPG, the global consulting firm, revealed that 75% of the world’s largest companies viewed water planning as critical, yet the majority of those firms didn’t have a long-term water plan. Google appears to be an exception, as it “… has a patent for a floating data center that is powered by waves and cooled by sea water.”
It doesn’t have to be the trend to use it all up while it’s there and then leave (or have permits revoked or new, restrictive regulations implemented- a strategy that some governments are using to assert their authority and manage consumption). And neither do we want that to be the strategy—we want business to sustain into the future.
Ms. Gustke outlines how some corporations are working with local governments and communities to access the water and meet community needs at the same time. Ford is working to reduce water per vehicle by 30% through water meters, use of recycled water, and other methods. Anheuser-Busch InBev is collaborating with the government of Chile to bring in a water treatment plant to gain a license to operate there (Chile is also in a drought).
It doesn’t end there, though—because declining water resources are a global issue, and it’s getting global attention. The RAND corporation, a highly reputable, nonpartisan think tank, has been working with water planning authorities to “make good decisions without predictions.” RAND developed some very sophisticated data modeling techniques that illustrate hundreds of different future scenarios and how the current plans/strategies fare under those many scenarios. The feedback can be incorporated back into today’s decision making. You can learn more about RAND’s Robust Decision Making and how it helped Southern California’s Inland Empire Utilities Agency.
Do you have a long term water management plan? How aggressive is it? We’d like to hear what you’re doing and how you’re advising your customers. Please drop us a note and make sure you let us know what area of this great State you’re in.