Water Taskforce calls on businesses to 'act now' and collaborate
Business in the Community (BITC) has renewed its call for companies to take action on water issues in the UK by improving resilience flooding and water shortages and by collaborating on sustainable water quality management.
A report - Securing the Resources for Future Prosperity - highlighting the water challenges faced in the UK, has been launched by the Government-backed BITC 'Water Taskforce' to mark the start of a three-year plan of action.
Water Minister Dan Rogerson said: "Across the country, many individual businesses are doing great things to help protect water quality and the environment. We believe businesses working together and sharing best practice is crucial to encourage others to do the same.
"That is why we are providing the Water Stewardship in Food Supply Chains Project within the Water Taskforce with £150,000 of government funding, to help boost collaboration and share knowledge across industry."
The BITC Water Taskforce, chaired by United Utilities chief executive Steve Mogford, has brought together water companies, other businesses and key stakeholders to work collaboratively on water issues such as overconsumption, water scarcity, water quality and increased flooding and drought risks from climate change.
The report identifies six steps to help organisations take action on water:
1: Understand relationship with water
Identify the value of water within supply chains and what positive and negative impacts, such as on availability or quality, that water usage has.
2: Create a plan for action
Prioritise areas where they can have most impact and decide on a path for action to address risks, reduce negative impacts and realise opportunities.
3: Manage direct water use
Look for opportunities to reduce water wastage through maintenance or through investment in new production processes. Water usage can be reduced by harvesting surface water, or by reusing it along with waste water.
4: Manage indirect water use
Collaborate with both suppliers and customers to ensure they are both aware of how their water usage impacts the environment and encourage them to actively engage with reducing negative impacts.
5: Build resilience to flooding and water shortages
Prepare for periods of too much water and too little; to defend against and respond to flooding and support communities and local business when it happens, and to ensure resilience to water scarcity through alternative sourcing.
6: Collaborate at local level on sustainable water quality management
Understand water-related risks associated with water abstraction, use and discharge at a local level then work with stakeholders to address shared water challenges.
BITC's head of innovation and partnerships Gudrun Cartwright said: "Water management should be part of all sustainable business strategies. Rising sea levels and changes in rainfall patterns are just the beginning of an increase in flooding and drought in the UK. There is a clear and urgent need for UK businesses to act now and respond to water challenges."
Water scarcity is an issue that is set to worsen due to anticipated population growth, increased urbanisation changing the distribution of demand and increasing the risk of flooding and threatening water quality. Late last year, Global beverage firm SABMiller led a similar call for businesses to invest in partnerships to secure water availability and quality and protect both the environment and long-term profitability.