Frequently Asked Questions

“WAVE helped us understand, accelerate and formalize our pathway and processes for water stewardship. I would encourage others to use WAVE as a springboard to start those discussions and figure out where they want to go and how they’re going to get there.”
-Mike Nemeth, senior adviser for agricultural and environmental sustainability, Nutrien

What is The Water Council’s WAVE: Water Stewardship Verified program?

The Water Council’s WAVE program provides an onramp for organizations to develop thoughtful strategies, set meaningful goals and take impactful action on water.

This proven program assures investors, customers and other key stakeholders that the organization is credibly and strategically addressing water challenges across the enterprise and within its value chain (as warranted). Organizations that complete WAVE demonstrate through independent verification that they are prioritizing water-related action where it matters most, ultimately mitigating water-related risk and addressing shared water challenges and opportunities while building a more water-resilient operations.

What does WAVE participation entail?

WAVE is a methodology for organizations to strategize, prioritize and take meaningful action on water stewardship across the enterprise.

Organizations that join WAVE proceed through a five-step, proven methodology for ensuring credible water stewardship action and outcomes. Participants must seek independent verification once the five steps are completed. In summary, your water stewardship journey will include:

  • Understanding your organization’s water uses, impacts and risks.
  • Assessing watershed risks where you operate or source key inputs.
  • Prioritizing sites and/or actions where the highest water-related risks can be mitigated.
  • Approving an organizational water stewardship policy.
  • Communicating your water-related action plans, goals and next steps.

What is the time and staff commitment for my company to participate?

WAVE was developed to be managed by a single individual. However, due to the comprehensive nature of the methodology, The Water Council recommends a team of at least two individuals with working knowledge of the environmental factors of the company.

The Water Council will meet with interested parties to scope out the level of effort and resources required   to complete the program. Depending on the level of commitment, the program can be completed within 3-4 months. WAVE participants also receive a comprehensive Implementation Guide, Normative Document and, if needed, additional technical advisory support services from The Water Council.

Is seeking independent verification required?

Yes. Upon successful completion of WAVE, all participants will seek independent verification from SCS Global Services.

This is an important conclusion to the process that sets WAVE apart from other similar programs. Verification provides additional assurance to your stakeholders that your actions are directly responsive to risk and how your organization uses and impacts water resources. It also benefits your company by guarding against the greenwashing label. Securing verification demonstrates to investors and other stakeholders that your company has prioritized water-related action where it matters most.

What is the public claim that my organization can make once completing the program?

Obtaining credible independent verification of water stewardship efforts at the enterprise level is critical for an organization to help avoid as accusations of “greenwashing.”

By completing the WAVE program and achieving verification by SCS Global Services, organizations will be able to make a public claim similar to the following:

[NAME] conforms to The Water Council’s WAVE (Water Stewardship Verified) (Version 1.2, April 2024). This organization has assessed water-related risk across the enterprise, identified the highest water-related impacts using credible water-related data, and implemented best practice in improving water stewardship performance.

What is The Water Council?

The Water Council is a global hub dedicated to solving critical water challenges by driving innovation in freshwater technology and advancing water stewardship.

Over the years, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, home of The Water Council, has earned a global reputation as the freshwater technology capital of the U.S. due to its well-established water technology industry and extensive network of water innovators. The driving force behind The Water Council’s success is the spirit of collaboration between public and private sectors and a shared commitment to finding innovative solutions to critical global water issues.

Recognizing the need for smarter and more sustainable use of water worldwide, The Water Council also promotes water stewardship as a natural complement to water innovation in the effort to preserve freshwater resources around the world. With strategic partnerships around the world, The Water Council is an all-inclusive global connector.

The Water Council possesses a management team with decades of collective expertise and experience. Entities from Brookings to the Harvard Business School have acknowledged it as a case study for economic development cluster excellence.

What experience does The Water Council have in water stewardship?

We are in our second decade in collective sustainability program development and management experience. We have become recognized global leaders in helping companies as they begin and advance their water stewardship programs.

Over the past 10 years, The Water Council has developed its water stewardship leadership and expertise by working with large multinational corporations to small family-owned farms and manufacturers across North America. Through this work, The Water Council gained critical insight and experience in water stewardship and uncovered a gap in services for companies beginning their water stewardship journeys. Previously, The Water Council helped to establish the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) and create the global AWS System with specific oversight in North America from 2015-21.

Who else is offering a similar service/product?

Following extensive and continuous customer discovery through the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps program, The Water Council uncovered a critical need in the marketplace to bridge the gap between organizations that have no water stewardship strategy and those that are ready to enact complex site-specific water stewardship action.

Through its research, experience and extensive global relationships, The Water Council is not aware of any consultants or firms singularly focused on a comprehensive water stewardship strategy that:

  • Connects enterprise-wide goals with site-level action
  • Translates that work into comprehensive, credible external reporting AND
  • Provides independent verification of performance and related claims (see “Claims” questions above).

The Water Council offers the added benefit of connecting organizations with the latest water technology to further address water quality or quantity challenges outlined during the WAVE process.

Why should I participate in this water stewardship program as opposed to other options?

WAVE participants demonstrate that they are prioritizing water-related action where it matters most, ultimately mitigating water-related risk and addressing shared water challenges and opportunities while building more water-resilient operations.

No common understanding exists in the marketplace around what constitutes “good” enterprise-wide water stewardship. Through our research, we have found stakeholders are generally dissatisfied with how existing ESG and other reporting frameworks address enterprise-wide water-related performance. Current practices focus more on water efficiency than a holistic water stewardship approach and do not address risk mitigation and value creation. This results in organizations with water targets that seem impressive on paper but do not adequately mitigate their true water risk, reflect local context or lead to credible water action through their value chain.

Organizations that successfully follow and complete The Water Council’s methodology signal to investors and other key stakeholders that they engage a strategic approach to water-related risk mitigation across the enterprise that responds to the materiality of water in their operations.

Does this program only serve large companies?

Water is a critical resource for nearly every business in any industry. From food and beverage, chemical and personal care to general manufacturing, parts suppliers, hospitality and even higher education, the availability of clean freshwater is critical to operations and sustainability.

In short, WAVE works for any organization, in any sector, operating anywhere globally. Reach out to The Water Council for a free, no-obligation consultation to see how WAVE fits your needs.

Will my claim be credible with investors and the public?

Organizations successfully completing WAVE will be independently verified by SCS Global Services.

Since 1984, SCS has been a pioneer and leading third-party certifier recognized as an independent verifier of programs covering a wide range of environmental, sustainability and quality certification credentials across multiple industry sectors accredited by American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

Upon verification, companies can use the WAVE claim and logo to help communicate their water stewardship actions credibly. The verification claim is valid for two years.

How can I use my claim and logo?

After successful independent verification, WAVE participants will receive a comprehensive verification package that lays out the dos and don’ts of where and when you can use the claim and logo.

In short, you may use the claim and logo on organizational materials and communications such as sustainability reports, ESG disclosures, websites and other media where you reference enterprise-wide achievements and commitments.

Can I extend my claim to my products and/or packaging?

Not at this time.

The Water Council is exploring opportunities to credibly and transparently extend WAVE-related claims to products and packaging in accordance with international best practices.

What is the financial cost to participate in the WAVE?

There is no “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to enterprise-wide water stewardship. The financial investment by your company to participate in WAVE will vary depending on your size, industry and relative water stewardship maturity.

The Water Council will provide an initial complimentary assessment of your company’s water stewardship position and needs to develop a financially attractive proposal that can demonstrate a positive return on your investment that will enhance your efficiencies and critical public reporting to key stakeholders.

The one-time program entrance fee also includes a one-year membership at the Water Champion level with The Water Council.

At the successful completion of the WAVE program, the required independent verification will include a separate audit fee to be paid directly to SCS Global Services.