Chances are, somewhere along the line, your supply chain requires freshwater — and lots of it. If it’s not already costing your organization a lot of money, it will soon. Why? Consider these facts, as collected in Greenhouse Gas and Energy Co-Benefits of Water Conservation by Carol Maas and Water for Energy by the World Energy Council.
- 70% of the planet may be covered in water, but only 3.0% of that is freshwater, and five sixths of that is frozen in glaciers
- 60% of freshwater is found in nine countries: Brazil, Russia, China, Canada, Indonesia, United States, India, Columbia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo
- one third of the Earth’s population does not have the necessary quantity of 100 to 200 litres/day of water available to them
- the US estimates that by 2050, half of the world’s population will live in nations short of water
- over the last 70 years, water withdrawals have increased at more than twice the rate of population expansion
- on average, 70% of available freshwater is used for agriculture and 22% is used by industry
- water is required to produce energy
- municipalities in Ontario consume more electricity than any industrial sector outside Pulp and Paper
- water and wastewater services in Ontario municipalities represent a third to a half of electricity consumption – double that of street lighting
- global water requirements for energy production are expected to increase from approximately 1.8 Billion cubic meters in 2005 to almost 2 Billion cubic meters in 2020 to about 2.1 Billion cubic meters in 2035
- the increased need for energy production combined with increased agricultural needs and industrial process needs (to produce goods for an increasing population) is going to add considerable strain to an already strained water supply
The cost of water is going to increase as freshwater becomes more scarce, just as the cost of energy has increased with the cost of oil, which is still a primary fuel for electricity generation. As a result, water conservation is quickly becoming just as important to your supply chain as energy conservation, and any measures taken today will pay off in spades tomorrow.