By Dean Amhaus, President & CEO
I know my radar is up when it comes to water, but it seems like water issues might finally be hitting critical mass with the business community and the public. Unfortunately, not a day goes by where we don’t see another major news story about water problems.
Then again, when drought, climate change and increasing demand threaten the water supply of 25 million Americans, you can’t help but take notice. That’s what’s happening on the West Coast, as Lake Mead – the country’s largest reservoir – sinks to historic lows that will most likely trigger water shortages and restrictions in the coming months. As you know, those low water levels also create significant challenges to the production of needed energy for a vast area of the U.S. Here in our own region, climate change is threatening to redraw the Lake Michigan shoreline in Chicago, as documented by reporter Dan Egan.
Barclays Capital is certainly paying attention. Its analysts recently declared water scarcity the top environmental concern in the food and beverage sector, with a potential $200 billion impact.
Water stewardship issues – including climate change, ESG (environmental, social and governance reporting) and healthy buildings – will be a major focus of our annual Water Leaders Summit starting next week. Make sure you’re registered to gain access to six sessions July 20-22 and 27-29, including our July 27 session with Sara Gonzalez-Rothi, the first-ever senior director for water on the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
Water Stewardship Update
This increased focus on water stewardship and the trends in ESG offer us major growth opportunities at The Water Council. We are currently piloting our Corporate Water Stewardship Accelerator (CWSA) with four companies as a solution for building a bridge between corporate action and investor evaluation of water stewardship performance. We’ve kicked off a six-week NSF Innovation Corps program to refine the business model around the CWSA offering.
We are also excited to welcome two new Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) members in North America: A. O. Smith and the J.R. Simplot Company. We look forward to engaging with them and all of our members at the upcoming Alliance for Water Stewardship Day in North America. This free virtual event, for AWS members only, will take place July 27 from 2 to 4 p.m. CST. It will include an update from Matt Howard, director of AWS North America, on the changes occurring to the AWS system in 2021, plus a chance to discuss pre-submitted member issues and questions. There will also be time for virtual networking and sharing of best practices. Please RSVP by July 20.
Stewardship is not the only area where we’re growing. This month we welcome another new member, KenWave Solutions of Ontario, Canada. We’re excited for you to join us in making water work!
Earlier this month, we were pleased to announce a new partner for our Tech Challenge: Xylem. Xylem joins A. O. Smith, Badger Meter and Watts Water Technologies as corporate sponsors of the challenge, crafting each challenge topic and selecting the winner.
We also announced the winner of the spring 2021 challenge recently: PANI, an innovative coating that prevents biofouling in water equipment. It was developed by Dr. Ran Y. Suckeveriene of Kinneret Academic College, Zemach, Israel. This is the latest example of The Water Council’s increasingly worldwide reach. Watch for an announcement of the next Tech Challenge topic later this summer.
Wisconsin State Budget Update
Last week Wisconsin wrapped up its state budget with several items of particular interest to The Water Council and our members, including:
More details to come on these exciting initiatives.