Managing water resources can help businesses operate more efficiently and profitably. Here’s why.
A joint report by Artemis Water Strategy and Kachan & Co., May 2011.
When it comes to resource management, water has taken a distant back seat to energy in most companies’ strategic planning. But efficient, sustainable water management practices will become an increasingly critical aspect of doing business for every company, from retail to consumer goods to heavy industry and beyond.
Population growth, climate change, and an aging infrastructure all are contributing to a future in which clean water will be harder to access. As our global thirst increases, the infrastructure that much of the developed world has relied on is beginning to age beyond its useful life. Beyond physical decay, we are also recognizing some problems with how we manage water resources. Pollution and contamination of our natural water resources are reaching crisis levels, as treated water is returned to ecosystems.
Centralized water management and treatment has had major benefits for human health in the past, but these systems are facing significant challenges in the years ahead. In this report, we review the primary ways in which wastewater is collected, filtered, disinfected and treated before being released back into natural water systems. The information provided helps demonstrate the diversity of contaminants and challenges that centralized treatment addresses.
With few exceptions, centralized water treatment facilities generate a single grade of water for every use, whether it will be used as tap water or to fill a toilet. This practice uses significant energy and materials and generates significant waste.
For business, addressing these issues can create substantial value. Through on-site wastewater management, more efficient practices, and in some cases creative re-invention of manufacturing processes, companies can slash water and wastewater management costs while creating a more stable operation.
This report equips the reader to better understand the benefits and challenges of today’s water management practices, provides an overview of current water treatment practices and suggests opportunities for businesses to create business value from these issues.
This report was authored with data from national agencies, latest academic papers, leading industry organizations, corporate water managers and engineering associations. Leading vendors, utilities, investors and others also informed the report.
Companies receiving significant attention in report
The report references water savings by Starbucks (6 million gallons of water saved daily) and Wal-Mart (80-90 percent of water use reduced) and identifies selected vendors of water technologies.
About the author
Laura Shenkar, Founder and Principal of Artemis Water Strategy, is one of the foremost global experts on corporate water strategy and technologies in commercial and industrial markets. Shenkar advises the venture capital community on emerging investment opportunities and works with leading country development organizations. A graduate of Yale University, she also holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.
IBM is dedicated to helping its clients innovate and realize value through the end-to-end transformation of their business models and the application of smarter technologies and business solutions. For more information on IBM’s position on smarter water management, visit www.ibm.com/smarterplanet/us/en/water_management/ideas/.
As market leader in enterprise application software, SAP helps companies of all sizes and industries run better. From back office to boardroom, warehouse to storefront, desktop to mobile device, SAP empowers people and organizations to work together more efficiently and use business insight more effectively to stay ahead of the competition. SAP applications and services enable more than 170,000 customers (includes customers from the acquisition of Sybase) to operate profitably, adapt continuously, and grow sustainably. For more information, visit www.sap.com.
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