Improving Water Productivity ‘Will Improve Environmental Flows & The Economy’
A new study has suggested that economic activity and environmental flows could be supported by improving water productivity, revealing the locations and industries in the US where better water consumption practices would deliver the greatest benefits.
Carried out by researchers from Virginia Tech, the study used a spatially detailed database of water productivity to set out benchmarks for over 400 sectors and products.
The team assessed how much improvement in water productivity – the production or dollars earned per unit of water consumed – could be achieved if all users’ water productivity was improved to meet a target benchmark.
Some of the most water stressed parts of the country, in the west and south, have the biggest potential for water savings, with approximately half of all savings obtained by making improvements in water productivity in goods such as alfalfa, cotton and corn.
Lead author of the study Dr Landon Marson explained that almost a sixth of river basins in the US can’t meet the water demands of society consistently, while providing enough water for the environment. Water stress and scarcity is predicted to intensify and spread in line with population growth, climate change and new emerging water demands.
“We also identified the US industries and locations that can make the biggest impact by working with their suppliers to reduce water use ‘upstream’ in their supply chain.
“The agriculture and manufacturing sectors have the largest indirect water footprint, due to their reliance on water-intensive inputs, but these sectors also show the greatest capacity to reduce water consumption throughout their supply chains,” he went on to say.
Dr Marston observed that this is the first step towards gaining a deeper understanding of the places and sectors where improving water productivity has the biggest potential where water conservation is concerned.
Meeting the water demands, both direct and indirect, of a growing population while ensuring that there is sufficient water to meet environmental flow requirements on a local level will be a “key challenge” in the future, he added.
Water stress and scarcity is a global issue and one that we must also be aware of even here in the UK, which is renowned for its annual rainfall. Companies keen to start doing their bit to reduce their reliance on mains water supplies should review their water management practices and make changes across their sites as required.
But it can be difficult to know where to begin and where to focus your efforts, so get in touch with H2o Building Services to see how we can help. We can carry out a water audit at your place of business to see what should be done first, providing you with a review of your historic water bills to identify areas where water – and money – can be saved.