Freshwater is a vital part of our economy and food system, and climate change’s impact on its availability means that difficult choices lie ahead in how we can use it.
Research shows that 80% of the Earth’s population already faces threats to their water security, while the demand for irrigation in the UK could go up by 160% because of climate change.
As the population continues to burgeon, it is vital to understand exactly where the risks to water supply and quality lie and how businesses can mitigate those. In this article, we discuss the same in greater detail:
Common physical water risks
Businesses everywhere in the UK are beginning to experience considerable water risks that threaten them financially. A big part of this is the direct lack of water, causing a hold-up or in some cases a complete failure, in operations.
While some governments are combating this by rationing water usage, others are resistant to doing so, and many poorer countries and communities are facing water shortages daily.
Not only does this affect new UK businesses that are trying to grow, but the over-extraction of water from already strained resources could lead to significant ecological harm. This, in turn, could affect business output due to poor water quality.
For instance, high sediment levels in the water extracted will mean increased water treatment costs – which, in turn, will be passed on to the consumer through higher prices. Another potential risk is that of surface run-off from agricultural land to freshwater resources – which could lead to harmful levels of chemicals in bottled drinking water sources.
The opportunities involved
Combating these risks requires conscious action. And the best part is that businesses in the UK do not have to see this action as just CSR. There are concrete business opportunities in managing water usage too. For instance, by lowering how much water they use, UK farmers can reduce their irrigation costs.
Plus, reduced water usage can save power costs for industries where water needs to be pumped and/or heated. And thirdly, the increasing need for water management creates the potential for innovative water-efficient inventions to take off and benefit both businesses and end consumers.
How to manage water resources: Part one
Recently, WWF shared a five-step framework to help businesses steward water resources better. The first step, naturally, is to become aware of how water risks arise and their impact on the business, the community, and the planet.
This is not just for the company employees but for shareholders too – many of whom are starting to expect that companies disclose how they are handling water risks. Some ways in which the business can accomplish this include:
- Gaining extensive knowledge on the water crisis around the world, the environmental ramifications of poor water management, the socio-political implications thereof and what this means for specific business sectors.
- Talking to relevant stakeholders outside the company about what they expect when it comes to water usage management and identifying what competitors are doing in this regard.
- Thoroughly examining the current business supply chain to understand how much water is used at each stage versus how much is actually needed, what the quality of the water is and whether the supply chain vendors and partners are aware of the risks.
How to manage water resources: Part two
Once a business has acquired the necessary knowledge, it is time to deep-dive into the impact its water usage has on the environment and the community at large. This can be accomplished by:
- Identifying the locations, routes and operational hotspots of each supplier and vendor and thus understanding which reservoirs or water resources are most relied upon (this can be accomplished either through direct on-ground research or by looking up existing data on supply chain process hotspots).
- Identifying the high-risk hotspots among these by using one of the many free water risk tools out there (such as the WWF Water Risk Filter), as well as by viewing one of the catchment management plans for the UK to understand exactly which river basins the business is relying on.
- Identifying whether business activities are having an impact on sanitation and water availability for the local community.
How Waste2ES is contributing to wastewater management
Most people and businesses do not give a great deal of thought to wastewater treatment. The water flows from the building into a sewer, often handled poorly by the water companies. Numerous manufacturers have their own waste water to manage. Sure, there are products designed to eliminate contaminants and improve water quality but which one should you go ahead with?
BiOWiSH® Aqua is known for naturally and sustainably reducing sludge and odour in municipal and wastewater. It accelerates the biological removal of nutrients from wastewater, achieving higher rates of denitrification in aerobic treatment conditions and restoring water quality to a great extent.
Waste2ES is an exclusive partner of BiOWiSH® in the UK. The products sold are 100% biodegradable and have no negative influence on plant and animal life, soil, and water quality.
If you would like to know more about how BiOWiSH® Aqua can help you improve the water quality at your establishment, please contact us.
After this knowledge, of course, comes strategic action. Engaging in action with other stakeholders is vital to this, as no business operates in a bubble. By working closely with suppliers and local authorities, businesses can find ways to reduce water usage without harming the flow of operations.
The UK government is already implementing initiatives to support corporate water stewardship. Businesses can ask for more support by presenting the evidence and suggesting opportunities on their own. This way, the country can safeguard a precious resource while continuing to deliver quality business value at home and abroad.