In 1993, the United Nations General Assembly designated 22 March as the first World Water Day, as an international observance and opportunity to learn about the importance of water. As such, this Tuesday will mark the 23rd annual World Water Day, and to celebrate South Africa has declared the week of 14 to 23 March National Water Week. Given the current situation in which the country finds itself, with extensive droughts throughout, it could not have come at a more pertinent time. Water is the basis of life. We need to appreciate it and conserve it.
Water Wise reports that in South Africa 60 percent of the water consumption is for agricultural use (including irrigation), whilst mining and industry uses 10.5 percent and urban and home use accounts for 11.5 percent of water consumption. Other large users of water include afforestation and power generation.
Of the household consumption, the biggest uses of water are toilets and gardening, followed closely by bathing and showers.
Although South Africa is currently drought-stricken and the driest it has been in years, rain is expected soon and there is hope for the nation yet. Whilst that is comforting for the immediate future, less so is the fact that the global water supply and condition worsens every year. CDP predict that by the year 2030, there will be a 40 percent shortfall in global water supply. Environmental agencies and foundations, governments and private corporations constantly implore individuals to reduce their water consumption and increase their water recycling, and many people do. However, it is companies and industry that are most at risk, both operationally and financially, if efforts are not made to reduce their consumption, or worse still if water supply levels reach a critical point.
As such, it is of vital importance that businesses understand their exposure to water risks and water management, as well as start taking responsibility for their environmental and social impacts. It goes without saying that businesses in certain industries will be more at risk than those in others. Industries such as food, mining, power generation and hospitality would obviously have a higher consumption of, and dependence on, water.
The first point of call should be for business to understand their water needs and uses, both direct and indirect – such as in their upstream and downstream value chain. Measuring water consumption will not only assist in reducing water use, but will also aid in raising awareness and driving plans for improved water management processes and systems.
How to then go about reducing one’s water use will of course depend on the nature of the business, the technologies both used and available, as well as several other variables. However, in order to be more water efficient, any company regardless of industry simply needs to follow these core steps:
- Understand where water is needed and being used across the business.
- Develop a water management plan, including water assessment(s). This allows for an understanding of where water is needed and what opportunities may be available to conserve it.
- Set goals from which to work and measure progress.
To learn more about measuring, reducing and managing your water consumption, get in touch with us.