Water sustainability


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Water sustainability

  1. 1. Managing your water sustainability An ERM guide for businessDelivering sustainable solutions in a more competitive world
  2. 2. ContentsThe importance of water 2Assessing needs 8Programme for change 12Sustainable water solutions 17About ERM 20 1
  3. 3. Introduction“If present trends continue,1.8 billion people will beliving in countries or regionswith water scarcity by 2025,and two thirds of the worldpopulation could be subjectto water stress”Asha-Rose MigiroUnited Nations Deputy Secretary General addressing a HighLevel Symposium on “Water Security at the United Nations”February 20092
  4. 4. This ERM business guide is aimed atorganisations wishing to ensure their waterresource needs are managed sustainably.It offers insights into the importanceof water within your operations and The Energy-Water Carbon Nexusgives practical pointers on how you can Whilst this booklet is focused on themake progress towards ensuring the issues surrounding water sustainability,sustainability of your water resources and the intrinsic inter-linkages betweensatisfying stakeholders that your water water, energy and carbon should not be ignored.needs are being met responsibly. Energy and carbon are required to drive water supply, whilst water is neededThe guide covers the following to create energy and to sustain thekey areas: biological life-forms that drive the global carbon cycle.• Freshwater stress - why this impacts your business• Assessing needs and measuring WATER impacts - a business case for action• A practical programme for tackling water sustainability ENERGY CARBON 3
  5. 5. Water: A Changing ResourceGlobal freshwater resources are being Population growthplaced under increasing pressure by In the last century, the world populationthe dual impacts of climate change and has tripled and it is expected to continuepopulation growth. on this path, rising from its current level of around 6.5 billion to 8.9 billion by 2025.Climate ChangeWhilst climate change is most often The scale of this growth will clearly placeassociated with shifts in mean global greater demands on existing freshwatertemperatures, it has also been linked to resource. However, the nature of thisincreases in the variability and volatility of growth and the regions in which it willglobal precipitation patterns. occur is also of considerable concern.These changes have meant that extreme Significant growth is, for example, expectedweather events such as floods and droughts in countries such as India and China, whichare not only becoming more widespread, are already ‘water stressed’. In addition,but are also increasing in both severity and shifts towards greater urbanisation andfrequency. As a result, freshwater resources development will mean that per capitaare becoming more vulnerable and water requirements will also increase.unstable, characteristics that are makingtheir management increasingly complex.4
  6. 6. Freshwater StressThe maps below highlight and project how much water will be withdrawn with respectto the amount naturally available, providing an indication of global regions that will beparticularly vulnerable to water related risks: 1995 2025 over 40% 20%-40% 10%-20% less than 10% Source: Vital Water Graphics, UNEP, www.unep.org 5
  7. 7. The Business Case for PursuingWater SustainabilityThe changing characteristics of global Business ‘license to operate’water resources are impacting business As public expectations of sustainabilityand consumers in ever more direct and shift, your ‘license to operate’ could alsomeasurable ways. There are four key issues change. Increased community awarenessthat will increase your organisation’s focus and recognition of local water challengeson water sustainability: could, for example, alter public acceptance of and support for your company’s strategicIncreasing water costs plans or water-related practices.Global climate change and populationgrowth are contributing to a decline inboth the quality and quantity of freshwaterresources. The net result of these changeswill be an increase in the cost of your water In June 2007, the UK experienced onesupply, due to increased competition for of its wettest months on record, withfreshwater resource, and/or increased some areas receiving a month’s worthrequirements for water treatment prior to use. of precipitation in 24 hours. These unprecedented levels of rainfall led to wide-scale flooding across the country,Potential business disruptions particularly in South West England,Increasingly volatile precipitation patterns resulting in around £3b of damage andcould mean that your operations are more widespread disruption to services.frequently disrupted by extreme weather Water company Severn Trent forevents such as floods and droughts. Such example was forced to close itsdisruptions could affect your operations Mythe water treatment works in Gloucestershire and initiate emergencydirectly, or indirectly through your value chain. procedures such as the distribution of 50 million litres of bottled water. SevernCustomer expectations Trent estimates that the 2007 floods cost them in the region of £25-35m.Your clients and consumers are increasinglywell-informed about global environmentalissues and are placing greater emphasison such considerations when makingtheir purchasing decisions. Whilst carboncurrently has the greatest profile within theglobal psyche, water sustainability and waterscarcity are becoming increasingly significant.6
  8. 8. Water RisksWater Quality A good understanding of both the requiredAs the global population grows, so will the clean-up levels and the available wateruse-pressures placed on global freshwater treatment options is therefore central toresources. The increasing number managing your water quality risks.and variety of both public and privatestakeholders exploiting such resources Floodingwill not only decrease the amount of Water scarcity is only one half of theresource available, but will also inevitably changing water resource equation.lead to a decline in the quality of the The increased volatility of global weatherfreshwater resource. patterns will also lead to a greater incidence of localised flooding.This will mean that your process effluents Flood risk management will thereforeare placed under greater scrutiny as a result become an increasingly importantof more stringent water quality standards component of your overall sustainabilityand growing demands for an equitable initiatives to prevent infrastructuralsupply for local communities and other damage and operational disruptions.water users. Additionally, your organisationmay increasingly need to seek treatment Greater emphasis on flood riskoptions for incoming water supplies in order assessments, to both inform investmentto maintain the integrity of their operations. decisions and review the sustainability of value chain operations, will also be key toIn managing the quality of both incoming reducing your organisation’s exposure toand outgoing water resources, you must flood risks.however take into consideration the widersustainability context of water treatment.Many existing water treatment systemshave significant carbon, energy and costrequirements for both installation andoperation, which must be balanced againstyour company’s water quality goals. Lowcarbon treatment solutions are available, butthese are often based on chemical or biologicalsystems that require ongoing assessment toensure consistency in treatment levels. 7
  9. 9. Assessing needsand measuringimpactsAll services and products havesome elements of water riskand water impact associatedwith their provision. Thequestion is how do youquantify these risks andimpacts so that you canaddress them appropriately?8
  10. 10. Looking at your organisation’s water footprintwill help identify the water related risks andimpacts associated with your operations.Business Water Footprinting The blue water footprint is the volume ofThe water footprint of a business is defined water removed from the global surfaceas the total volume of freshwater used water and ground water resources. Thedirectly or indirectly to run and support green water footprint is the volume ofits operations. water removed from rainwater resource stored in the soil as soil moisture. The greyThe water footprint consists of two parts: water footprint is the volume of freshwaterthe operational footprint and the supply- required to dilute contaminants inchain footprint. The operational footprint wastewater streams to agreed water qualityis the amount of freshwater used at specific standards. By calculating and analysingbusiness units, i.e. your organisation’s its business water footprint, yourdirect freshwater use. The supply-chain organisation can:footprint is the amount of freshwater used • Identify the water related impacts ofto produce all the goods and services that its operations on its social and naturalform the production input at each specific environment;business unit, i.e. the indirect • Create transparency for stakeholders;freshwater use. • Assess water use in comparable business units for benchmarking andWater footprints are also widely target setting; andacknowledged to comprise three key water • Identify and support the developmenttypes: blue, green and grey water. of policy to reduce business risks related to freshwater scarcity. 9
  11. 11. Which Water Tool?Whilst the benefits of better understanding Various publicly available tools havean organisation’s water footprint and the also been released, such as the Globalgeneral characteristics of a business water Environmental Management Initiativefootprint are relatively well recognised, (GEMI)’s Water Sustainability Toola standard methodology for calculating (see www.gemi.org/water) and thewater footprints has yet to be developed. World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)’s Global Water ToolThe lack of a universal methodology (see opposite).stems from a range of factors includingthe relatively recent emergence of the Efforts to standardise water footprintingconcept of ‘water footprinting’ and the have however been catalysed throughdifficulties associated with characterising the establishment of the Water Footprintcertain elements of an organisation’s water Network (www.waterfootprint.org) andfootprint, such as the regional and socio- recent work towards the development of aneconomic contexts of water sustainability. ISO standard on water footprinting.The absence of a standard waterfootprinting methodology has lead to thedevelopment of a range of approachesand supporting tools focused onaddressing business water risk andwater sustainability, each with their ownparticular scope and associated limitations.10
  12. 12. World Business Council for SustainableDevelopment (WBCSD) Global Water ToolThe WBCSD Global Water Tool, launched during the 2007 World Water Week inStockholm, is a freely available Excel based tool that allows companies and organisationsto map their water use and assess risks relative to their global operations and supplychains.The tool does not provide specific guidance on local situations, which requires more in-depth systematic analysis, but can help you:• compare water use (incorporating aspects such as staff presence as well as industrial/supply chain usages) against validated water and sanitation availability information on a country and watershed basis;• calculate water consumption and efficiency;• establish relative water risks in its portfolio to prioritise action;• create key water Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) indicators, inventories, risk and performance metrics and geographic mapping; and• effectively communicate with internal and external stakeholders on the company’s water issues.Further information on the WBCSD Global Water Tool is available from www.wbcsd.org/web/watertool.htm. 11
  13. 13. A practicalprogramme forensuring thesustainabilityof your waterresources12
  14. 14. The following section provides a framework fordeveloping an integrated sustainable water strategyto meet your ongoing water resource needs. This will allow you to: • Generate fewer impacts and deliver enhanced performance; • Adapt to changes in water resource availability; • Integrate operational issues relating to water, carbon and energy; • Respond to potential regulatory developments focused on water sustainability and water quality; and • Meet client expectations of corporate responsibility and sustainability. 13
  15. 15. A simple six step programme toget you started Implementation Strategic Phase Phase Step 1 Step 2 Step 3 Step 4 Step 5 Step 6 Apply Measure your Align the Assess risks & practical business assessment Integrate opportunities solutions water with your water issues Engage your associated to resolve footprint organisation’s into your stakeholders with your major issues across your energy & business water & explore entire value climate change strategy footprint significant chain assessments opportunities • Develop the • Prioritise business • Water audits • Water foot- physical, • Assess the case & monitoring printing regulatory & relationship • Gather between • Align water • Compliance • Review water reputational input from energy & manage- & permitting use, sources, risks employees, water ment impacts & • Identify key • Modelling stakeholders programme associated opportuni- • Integrate • Stormwater & regulatory with business costs ties for water & management organisa- strategy & • Survey key branding, energy tions strategic • Water/ organisa- efficiencies & strategies direction wastewater tions stakeholder • Determine engineering relations key roles14
  16. 16. Pay particular attention to the Make the leap. Now you should be readyfollowing areas: to implement your integrated sustainable water strategy. Internally, you shouldWhat do stakeholders actually want? be clear who is involved and how theConsider the expectations of your programme impacts other areas ofclients and investors – not to mention your business.key opinion formers within your ownorganisation. Will your customers care Independent assurance. Even thoughenough to pay a premium for products you are doing all the right things, willand services founded on sustainable water your stakeholders trust you? Gainingsupplies? Do investors believe that greater assurance on your performance and claimssustainability will produce a better financial has become a key area of sustainabilityreturn? Considering market drivers and programmes as organisations seek to addstakeholder expectations is critical. credibility to what they are doing.Prioritise issues for action. What are youtrying to achieve and in what timescale?Set realistic targets that can be sensiblyintegrated with your overall strategydevelopment and implementation process.Consider proposed initiatives in the contextof your commercial priorities andmarket pressures. 15
  17. 17. Support the message with an awarenessbuilding programmeHighlighting water related issues both within your organisation and externally alongyour value chain can significantly increase the likelihood of successful integration andenhance the impacts of your sustainable water strategy. ERM’s Water School Founded on the principles behind ERM’s pioneering ‘Carbon School’, Water School provides a starting point for organisations seeking to identify and mitigate threats to the sustainability of its water resources. An ERM Water School introduces your staff to the emerging concept of water neutrality and trains them in the relevant areas. Water School is tailored towards your organisation’s specific needs and can also be extended to incorporate the education of your suppliers in order to minimise your overall exposure to changes in the global water resource. ERM’s Water School programme will enable your staff and your suppliers to answer questions such as: • What are the fundamentals that we need to know? • What direct and indirect risks will changing global water resources pose to • our business? • Should we be undertaking water footprinting studies, and if so, why? • What are the financial benefits of being proactive in managing our water resources and moving towards water neutrality? • What are our competitors doing in this area, and how can we close the gap or be one step ahead? • How can we manage our water footprint credibly and communicate it effectively? • How do we monitor and maintain the quality of the water used in our business?16
  18. 18. Sustainable WaterSolutionsBuilding a cohesivesustainability strategy isjust one component ofyour overall water riskmanagement programme. Theimplementation of sustainablewater solutions is anotherintegral element. 17
  19. 19. Sustainable DrainageRainwater and stormwater are two Various sustainable drainage options areresources that are often neglected by available, from simple retention pondsbusinesses looking to reduce the water and sediment traps, to filtration units,related impacts of their operations. Better rainwater tanks and green roofs. Themanagement, or even harvesting, of technology profile of these solutions,these resources can not only reduce the incorporating aspects such as spatialorganisation’s reliance on increasingly requirements, capacities and treatmentvariable municipal water supply options, capabilities, must be matched against bothbut could also reduce the water quality the nature of supply as well as the waterimpacts of site run-off. use requirements embedded within your organisation’s sustainable water strategy.In order to harness these potential waterresources, you must first ascertain thecharacteristics of these site-specificresources, such as the consistencyand quality of supply. Once thesecharacteristics have been defined, theviability of implementing more sustainablemanagement and/or harvesting solutionscan be determined.18
  20. 20. Wastewater Recycling and ReuseWastewater streams also provide asignificant opportunity for organisations Wastewater Reuse at theseeking to improve their water Reficar Refinery, Colombiasustainability. Such streams can again ERM was asked to design a 2,100provide a valuable secondary water gallon per minute (gpm) raw waterresource if managed and treated treatment system with the recycle/ reclaim capacity of 1,000 gpm for theappropriately. Treating wastewater Reficar refinery in Cartagena, Colombia.streams for reuse can also improve theoverall environmental performance of your The reuse system would receive various process and utility wastewater streamscompany by facilitating the management of to purify and reuse within the coolingcontaminated wastewaters. tower makeup, thus reducing raw water consumption at the plant.An array of wastewater treatment ERM’s cost estimates showed that paytechnologies currently exist, ranging from back of the US$900k capital investment‘green remediation’ biological systems, through water savings related cost efficiencies would occur within two andsuch as wetland treatment or anaerobic a half years.digestion, to conventional chemico-physicalmethods. These options can also becombined to ensure the treated wastewaterstreams are suitable for reuse either withinexisting process streams, or across otheraspects of your organisation. 19
  21. 21. About ERMOperating in 39 countries,ERM is a leadingenvironmental, healthand safety, risk and socialconsultancy, deliveringsustainable solutionsworldwide.20
  22. 22. Our breadth and depth of expertise andexperience enables us to offer you unparalleledproject and boardroom advice at each stage ofyour value chain, anywhere in the world. ERM and Water Sustainability Globally, ERM offers a number of key services in support of clients who are seeking to ensure the sustainability of their water resources. These include: • Business and product water footprinting • Supply chain and employee awareness building • Water resource modelling • Flood risk identification and characterisation • Water use minimisation • Water quality assessment • Water and wastewater engineering • Sustainable drainage solutions and stormwater management 21
  23. 23. ERM ContactsSustainability & Climate Change Practice Lead, BeneluxMarianne FernagutT: +32 2 550 02 86E: marianne.fernagut@erm.comOther Global ERM ServicesTom WoollardT: +44 (0) 203 206 5273E: tom.woollard@erm.comwww.erm.com