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Businesses Key to Sustainable Water

According to a new report released by the World Business Council for

Sustainable Development, businesses and private enterprise can rainsplash drop 800play a key role in sustainable water resource management.

“For businesses, local participation in collective management of water will be key to ensuring long-term access to the resource in the context of competing demands,” states the report. Amongst the key actions businesses should take: developing partnerships and focusing on watershed solutions that go “beyond the ‘fence-line.’”

“Well managed river basins provide services that are essential to businesses continuity and society,” write the report’s authors. “Water security and quality depend on the services provided by healthy watersheds. “

Smarter management by the commercial industries and private interests are important to watershed protect, in part because competing demands can deplete and waste scarce supplies. The report’s authors advocate cooperation amongst “all the shareholders of the resource within the river basin: government; business, including energy providers; agriculture; and communities.”

Acknowledging, “Today the value of water is significantly underestimated by many,” the report also applauds companies that are already starting to develop resource management strategies that recognize “the localized nature of water availability, demand, and quality, as well as that their water security depends on the security of others.”

“However,” the report warns, “business faces several challenges in undertaking such an approach: for example a lack of established governance systems, weak participatory processes, and the difficulty of getting internal high-level commitment in the absence of clear quantifiable benefits.”

In order to greaten the impact of private businesses water resource management, the report suggests the following actions:

  • Cooperation within sectors to collaborate across sectors (i.e., agricultural water reuse)
  • Using risk management as a way to seize opportunity
  • "Inside the fence-line to watershed-based collaboration”
  • Recognizing the true value of water in order to make “better investment decisions”

Ultimately, the report’s authors are forceful in their conclusion that watersheds are crucial to a sustainable water plan, and “Their fundamental role in addresses in the widening gap between global water demand and supply needs to be widely recognized and acted upon by all.”

SustainAbility Newsletter Archive Article (random)

Efficient Watering Methods

Trickle Irrigation ImageTrickle irrigation and drip irrigation systems help reduce water use and meet the needs of plants. With these methods, very small amounts of water are supplied to the base of the plants. Since the water is applied directly to the soil, rather than onto the plant, evaporation from leaf surfaces is reduced. The water is also placed where it will do the most good, rather than sprayed over the entire garden.

Trickle irrigation systems are frequently used by farmers dealing in high value crops such as vegetables, and small fruits such as grapes and berries, where lack of moisture can mean the difference between a profitable harvest or costly failure. These systems are similar to those used by the home gardener.

Fast Facts:

  • Wise use of water for garden and lawn not only helps protect the environment, but saves money and provides for optimum growing conditions. Simple ways of reducing the amount of water used for irrigation include growing xeriphytic species (plants that are adapted to dry conditions), mulching, adding water retaining organic matter to the soil, and installing windbreaks and fences to slow winds and reduce evapotranspiration.
  • Watering in the early morning before the sun is intense helps reduce the water lost from evaporation. Installing rain gutters and collecting water from downspouts also helps reduce water use. 


References and Sources used in this issue of SustainAbility Newsletter Include:

Audubon International

The International Sustainability Council

The US Environmental Protection Agency

Organic Farming Research Foundation

United States Department of Agriculture
Natural Resources Conservation Service

Natural Resources Defense Council


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