The importance of clean water supplies cannot be overstated. Water is essential for life, not only for drinking but serving as a critical component of healthy food, sanitization processes, and even cleaning our bodies and clothing.
Unfortunately, an increasing number of people worldwide do not have access to clean water. And as the demand and supply of water continue to be problematic for some, the circumstances will likely become more serious. But what if there was something you could do? What if you could leverage your skills and work to help secure fresh water for people around the country?
This article will look at what business leaders can do to positively impact the availability of clean water, including in locations as close as California.
The growing lack of freshwater is surprising to many. After all, much of the world is covered with water – how could we possibly be running out of it? The issue is that most of the water – more than 97% – is salty. That leaves less than 3% for freshwater needs; however, it is important to note that much of this percentage is contained in glaciers, so freshwater accounts for less than 1% of the globe’s water supply.
The demand for water has increased as the global population has grown; however, they have not grown at the same rate. The demand for water has spiked sharply at more than twice the rate of population growth over the past 100 years. This will ultimately lead to people running out of the water needed to sustain life. Nearly two billion people are estimated to live with water scarcity by 2025, and the challenge of securing freshwater for the population is ever-increasing.
How does water scarcity impact businesses?
The majority of businesses stand to lose as water scarcity grows. This issue will affect four different aspects of business and operations:
We will look at two of the most pressing issues: regulatory and physical.
As the water crisis continues to grow, government regulators will hold increasing sway. Recent laws in China required that water used by papermakers be reduced by 10%, for example, with the industry upgrading business operators entirely to reduce consumption by as much as 45%. Even more recently, PepsiCo’s groundwater consumption was reduced by 75% in India.
Physical risks posed by water stress and scarcity are equally dangerous. Too little water can interrupt operations almost entirely and lead to millions in damages, as illustrated by General Motors’ recent issues in Brazil. A drought in 2015 led to more than $2m in increased water costs and nearly $6m in related electricity costs.
What can business leaders do to address water scarcity?
We know that water scarcity can impact businesses significantly, but what can business leaders do about it? Here are a few things leaders can do to help promote healthy water consumption.
Improve water efficiency
Water management can begin at the corporate level with water strategies designed to improve water efficiency, manage risks, and comply with wider regulations. Improving operational performance and striving for excellence is possible by isolating and mitigating current water waste and related issues. Staying up-to-date about emerging technologies is an excellent way to maintain performance gains. Still, the most critical step leaders can take is to pay close attention to water consumption and make intelligent decisions to improve efficiency.
Invest in clean water initiatives
Another way business leaders can take positive steps to improve water scarcity is to invest in clean water initiatives. These projects can vary in size and location, from global initiatives to local community-run projects. The Cadiz Water Project, for example, is a well-respected clean water initiative in Southern California. Together with the second-largest water agency in Orange County, the Cadiz Water Project strives to conserve and capture water otherwise lost in the Mojave Desert to evaporation.
Even beyond investing in clean water initiatives, business leaders can become passionate proponents of water sustainability at global, national, and local levels. Investing in innovation, technology, and research beyond immediate operational needs is needed. This has the side benefit of improving your reputation as an environmentally friendly business – something which, in turn, can make your company a more appealing enterprise.
What can you do to help curb the imposing threat of water scarcity? Hopefully, our blog will give you some ideas. From developing smart water consumption strategies to investing in technology and initiatives beyond the corporate office, business leaders can take plenty of steps to help perfect access to clean water for the population and companies.