“Water- a bequest of nature” bases all innovations in curbing water crisis to make our blue planet green and sustainable.
India is in the grips of an unprecedented water crisis with 600 million people facing disconcertingly high water stress, three quarters of households lacking access to drinking water in their homes, and the country ranking 120th among 122 countries in water quality, according to an alarming report in 2018.
While climate change is already having a profound effect on global hydrological cycles, resulting in more severe droughts, frequent precipitation and flooding events, an up-surging competition due to paucity of resources among industry, agriculture, and the inflating populace is exacerbating the existing critical situation and its underlying risks.
This has made it all the way more imperative for organizations, institutions and individuals to commit themselves towards resource building and foster praxes and solutions that would succor them in fabricating a sustainable future.
Organizations like Mahindra & Mahindra, Aditya Birla Group, Hindustan Construction Company (HCC), ITC limited are among a clutch of Indian corporations working towards water stewardship. The Mahindra Group for instance, has ready case studies of water positivity across various locations including Nashik, Khopoli, Igatpuri, Chakan and Zaheerabad. In 2017-18, the auto manufacturer invested nearly INR 28.8 crore in environmental interventions, about INR 1 crore on water treatment and INR 20 lakh on water quality monitoring.
While companies have been making vague promises, ITC limited, one of the corporate pioneers has been water positive for 12 years. The diversified conglomerate has achieved the milestones of a carbon positive, water positive and close to zero solid waste discharge company as per the Sustainability Report for the year 2007.
As more and more organizations are aspiring for the same, everyone is strained into asking if they are thriving towards it in actuality, for the greater good or is it just a CSR stunt?
While Mahindra and Mahindra is endeavoring to become a better water steward by offsetting their water footprint through rational investment in sustainable solutions and watershed projects, unfortunately, the organization has failed to take a greener approach in their own spadework. Not long ago, Anand Mahindra, the CEO of the Mahindra Group had shared a picture of a boardroom meeting on Twitter, which had plastic water bottles in it. Against the same background, a twitter user had pointed out these plastic bottles in the picture.
While the multinational car manufacturing corporation has invested in many green projects including the Clean Development Mechanism project, it has unfortunately overlooked the need for sustainable solutions and practices within the organization. Investing in sustainable methodologies or even green projects wouldn’t make an organization water positive in true sense if it ultimately entails eco-destructive solutions like plastic water bottles.
While Anand Mahindra, in his generous response to that tweet, promised to ban plastic water bottles from boardrooms, there are a lot of organizations who, even after recurrent citation, simply perpetuate to regulate in their old lucrative ways with least concern about environmental impacts.
Trumpeting about sustainability goals and green-building strategies wouldn’t make corporations water positive if their own facilities consume mammoth amounts of water through sourcing fresh water every single day, splurging money on plastic water bottles, draining the RO reject water, disemboguing the wastewater in general, crassly wasting water in pantries, to name a few.
Tangible headway in water stewardship does not only embroil investing in green projects to redress the balance but also truncating the companies’ own water footprints by roping in sustainable solutions.
According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) of India, about 500 billion m3 of water is used by industries annually, which is tantamount to 13% of the total freshwater consumption, presently. Furthermore, the demand of water for industrial use and power generation is increasing at the rate of 42% per annum, according to the World Bank. This is a call to action for industries to rein in their water consumption reasonably possible and invest in sustainable solutions and practices outside as well as inside the organization.
Water stewardship can be achieved by adopting a multi-pronged approach by reducing the existing freshwater consumption, incorporating recycling and reusing principles in the organization’s operations, implementing sustainable practices and methodologies, offsetting freshwater consumption by investing in watershed projects beyond the fence line of sustainable water management.
While most of these approaches are being instigated by quite a lot of organizations, it is equally important to focus on the internal facilities and operations to curtail the water footprint. Companies need to incorporate sustainable technologies and solutions within the organization as well to become water stewards in true sense.
From recycling the wastewater of the organization through potable sewage water treatment plants to installing water-flow restrictors in faucets, every green intention contributes to a greater good.
With the latest biodynamic in-house hydration technologies, corporations can eliminate the use of plastic water bottles, curtailing almost half of the unnecessary water consumption. These cutting-edge sustainable alternatives including drinking water fountains, bottle fillers, drinking water stations, atmospheric water generators, to name a few, slash water rejection up to 20% and recycle 100% water that can be re-used for various purposes, leading to zero water footprint in themselves!
Unlike the eco-villain bottled water which takes 7 to 8 liters to package one bottle and creates massive scarcity in the areas of manufacturing, these hydration solutions resonate sustainability in every aspect. These eco-conscious, sensor-based hydration equipment have become a critical part of the endeavor to reduce the ‘plastic footprint’.
While plastic water bottles contribute to water mining, the latest hydration solutions contribute to the company’s goal of water stewardship by saving water and fuel. By switching from plastic water jars to in-situ sustainable alternatives, organizations can curtail up to 1844 tonnes per year of carbon emission by cutting direct (fossil fuels, & incineration) and indirect (fuel in transit) carbon emissions!
While the water stewardship movement is still making progress, there are some corporations who have committed themselves to this concept and its holistic approach in order to tackle the water woes. They are viewing water stewardship beyond Corporate Social Responsibility and risk management initiative, which merely limits the business’ potential for growth and social as well as environmental well-being of regions where they operate.
Companies like JP Morgan, Sapient, Ericsson, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse are going beyond their corporate social responsibilities of catering the water needs of the communities, supply chains, the world at large by building strategies to curb down their facility footprint too. They have made sure that not a single drop of water is wasted in their organization by installing sustainable high-tech hydration solution as a replacement to the eco destructive plastic bottles and potable sewage treatment plants to recycle the wastewater!
With water crisis’ snowballing effect, more and more organizations need to cognize their own operations, water consumption, operating environment and all the deleterious impacts of their businesses to analyze the risk to the environment and take a holistic approach towards it.
While water scarcity in a sense has led to the growing expectations of stakeholders towards the organization’s water footprint, businesses need to entail socially equitable, environmentally sustainable and economically beneficial practices and methodologies in their green guidelines. Every green intention needs to be embedded in detailed standards and elaborate policy plans in order to come up with comprehensive solutions.
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