Water Hits the Bottom Line – Corporate Reporting on Water

Water Hits the Bottom Line – Corporate Reporting on Water

Let’s face it – water is a big concern for a lot of corporations. Beverage companies need it to make their product, power companies rely on for efficient cooling, energy extraction companies use it for forcing natural gas and tar sands out from bedrock, clothing manufacturers rely on water indirectly through their supply chains, and so on.

Misuse of water can bring unwanted attention and put major capital investments at risk. But corporations traditionally have not told the public at large, or more specifically their investors, the ways in which they use water or what they are doing to minimize their exposure due to business dependence on water resources.

A recent analysis of corporate reporting practices on water may start to change that. The report,“Murky Waters?: Corporate Reporting on Water Risk”, authored by Brooke Barton of Ceres, benchmarks 100 publicly traded companies from eight industrial sectors, and ranks them by the transparency of their reporting practices. The report also highlights specific practices such asIntel’s water management system that has lowered its daily water demand in Chandler, AZ by 75% over the past decade.

Her analysis of the electric power sector, which uses the majority of the water in this country, turned up some good practices as well. Pinnacle West/Arizona Public Service (APS) reports that they use treated sewage effluent for cooling rather than potable water. American Electric Power reports on site-by-site use of water.

I’m sure the Ceres report will be a major topic of conversation at next week’s conference hosted by American Business Conferences, entitled “Understanding, Measuring, and Managing Water Scarcity Risks and Footprints in the Supply Chain.” If you go, please let me know how it goes.

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