The ability to communicate what you’re doing is critical to gaining support for your efforts in sustainability. On water issues, the time for action and communication is now.
Yesterday, Gov Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency to address California’s water emergency, after three straight years of drought and fearing two or three more years. Meanwhile, the depth of Lake Mead is falling so fast that Las Vegas may lose 40 percent of its water supply by 2012. And, in many parts of the world, a gallon of water costs more than a gallon of gas.
Water is regarded as a very clean, renewable source of energy and, yet, here we are: California has added 9 million new residents since its last major drought in 1991. In addition, according to an outstanding article on Bloomberg.com, China has 21 percent of the world’s people but only 7 percent of the water; and Las Vegas is paying homeowners $1.50 a square foot to replace lawns with gravel (which doesn’t have to be watered). In the United States, the battle for jobs and company relocations could come down to who has the water – Mississippi, Louisiana, Great Lakes, Finger Lakes, Land of 1,000 Lakes, etc.
The nations of the world have long fought wars over water – for drinking, commerce, military, etc. And it could get a lot worse. The most ominous prediction comes from Northwestern University professor Dipak Jain, quoted in the February 26 Bloomberg article by John Lippert and Jim Efstathiou Jr.: “Water is going to be more important than oil in the next 20 years.”
For companies, those that know how to manage their water – and communicate their actions to the public and regulators – will have a distinct advantage. Your economic viability is at stake, chemical companies, manufacturers, beverage companies, car wash owners, and so on. For individuals, even in Europe and North America, this basic human right doesn’t seem so basic anymore.