By Ann Tartre
Our recent newsletter highlighted the State Water Resources Control Board’s approval last week of new emergency drought regulations expected to take effect August 1. The regulations are designed to give local agencies the authority to fine those who waste water up to $500 a day. In general, Californians have fallen far short of meeting Gov. Jerry Brown’s January call for a 20% cut in water use.
But the news isn’t all bad. Today July 25th, Colorado River Day — celebrating the day the river was officially renamed from the “Grand” to the “Colorado” — we highlight the role businesses are playing in water conservation and in protecting the Colorado River.
The waterway serves as the backbone of the West’s economy and a critical drinking source for millions in Southern California. Companies in the arid west rely on substantial amounts of Colorado River water for production, cleaning, cooling, and other operating processes. In fact, more than half of San Diego County’s water comes from the Colorado River. Yet demand for Colorado River water is outstripping supply, and the scarcity and rapidly increasing price of water presents risks to businesses in the region.
Fortunately, examples abound of companies voluntarily implementing measures that cut water waste and designing products that use less water to gain competitive advantage. Last year, Protect the Flows a group of over 1,100 businesses, from Main Street retailers to Fortune 500 companies, convened the first Business of Water Corporate Leaders Summit in Denver to document the cases, best practices and tools the business sector is using to ensure the Colorado River keeps flowing. Life Technologies, a Carlsbad, CA –based life sciences company that is a Protect the Flows member, between 2008-2012 reduced its water usage by a staggering 50% (normalized to sales). Despite annual water rate increases of over 10%, the company’s water spend went down, not up.
Hunter Industries, a San Marcos-based manufacturer that participated in a 2013 True Market Solutions Sustainability Circle and also a Protect the Flows member has set a goal to reduce water use by 15 percent from a 2014 baseline.
These companies, and many more major brands have committed to implementing win-win solutions that save their businesses money, protect the environment and ensure balanced use of river water so that our economies and communities can thrive. Indeed, we want to give a “shout out” to Hunter Industries who today will be launching a new initiative to engage their employees in a Colorado River restoration project in partnership with the group Change the Course.
Protect the Flows is co-hosting the Business of Water Summit 2.0 in Las Vegas this August with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. If you are a business leader interested in learning more about water issues in the West, sharing best practices, tools and tips to reduce water use in your facilities, or advancing local, state and federal policies that will incentivize companies to implement water saving processes, consider registering for the summit. Major brands such as California American Water, Coca Cola, GE, Veolia Water, and KB Homes will be featured at this year’s summit. Click here for more information and to register.
Ann Tartre is a San Diego based Assistant Coach at True Market Solutions. She also serves as the Director of Corporate Partnerships for Protect the Flows.