Global Leaders are Convening at World Water Week - What Can Business Owners do to Contribute?

Image source: PhotoDune

Image source: PhotoDune

World Water Week is the annual focal point for the globe’s water issues. It is organized by SIWI – an international water institute. In 2019, World Water Week will address the theme “Water for Society – Including All”.

In the fourth year of implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the 2019 World Water Week addresses the basic objective to secure inclusive and sustainable development for all people in all countries. The UN is focusing on “no-one left behind” as the theme for the 2019 World Water Day and World Water Development Report. Water security underlies human and environmental security; access to and use of water in adequate quantity and quality are fundamental to survival and prosperity.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set ambitious targets for future development applying to all countries, whether high, middle or low income. This scope covers many of these goals including poverty, hunger, gender equality, water and sanitation, inequality and peaceful and inclusive societies. In 2018, over 3,300 individuals and around 380 convening organizations from 135 countries participated in World Water Week.

Experts, practitioners, decision-makers, business innovators and young professionals from a range of sectors and countries come to Stockholm to network, exchange ideas, foster new thinking and develop solutions to the most pressing water-related challenges of today. Today’s water management is confronted with many challenges including population growth, climate change, and urbanization.   

How can we help – Start with Water Conservation

Water conservation has turned into an essential practice in every part of the world, even in regions where water seems abundant. It is the most practical and environment-friendly approach to lessen our need for water. We can take steps to control consumption of water and avoid waste and shortage. We know that the planet is mostly covered with saltwater, which can only be consumed after undergoing a desalination process. This process, while a viable option, is quite expensive. Events such as droughts further limit access to clean and fresh water. This means that we must take extra steps to reduce water use and save as much water as possible to survive drought conditions. In many areas of the world, access to water is limited due to contamination.

Start with a water audit. Many companies that use a significant amount of water underestimate just how much water they are using. A commercial water audit will assess how much water your business is using each day and identify conservation opportunities. Audits can also uncover costly leaks where inexpensive repairs could help stop unnecessary water loss and save your business money. Talk to your utility company about what water audit options it provides. Depending on your utility provider, you may even qualify for a free water audit or receive rebates for instituting water-saving initiatives.

Educated and empower employees. No one wastes water intentionally, but without conservation education, it can be difficult for your staff to know what they’re doing wrong. Engage employees in a workplace initiative for conscientious water use and management. Start a workplace challenge, publish updates on your company blog or internal newsletter, and encourage the entire team to get involved.

Know your location status. Be informed about the major water issues facing your location and and community. While California’s water crisis is well known (as is general water scarcity throughout the Western states), did you know that every state in the USA faces their own water challenges? This interactive water quality map from Pelican Water aggregates the most significant water issues facing the US on a state-by-state basis. Texas, for example, faces water quality problems due to contamination from chlorine byproducts, TTHMs, and mercury. In Arizona, arsenic and lead contamination are exacerbating groundwater depletion problems. Know the issues facing your state and what your business can do to protect employees better from contamination concerns with drinking filters.

Go low-flow. Contact your building management team and request they install low-flow restrictors. For example, the difference between older toilets and new, low-flow toilets is pretty significant. Older toilets use as much as 5 gallons to flush compared with low-flow toilets that only use 1.6 gallons. Don’t stop at the toilets! Low-flow faucet aerators can cut water flow down from 2.2 gallons per minute to 1.5 gallons. Pre-rinse spray valves cut water usage down from 4 gallons to 1.5 gallons. Let your building manager know that going low-flow is a priority for your business!

Re-think landscaping. One trend among local businesses is a push towards sustainable landscaping. That means choosing drought-hardy plants, like succulents and cacti, rather than bushes or shrubbery that requires significant water to flourish. Another option: eliminating grass. Consider replacing your grass with pebble and stone steps. Not only will you significantly reduce landscape water needs, but you will also save a bundle on upkeep costs. Just think, no more mowing, weeding, or fertilizing either! Plus, drought-tolerant landscaping sends an important message to your customers and clients that you value environmental sustainability.