Corporate Water Strategies: All Watersheds are Local

I hate Will Sarni.

There I was finishing up Keith Richards’ “Life” and awaiting a highly anticipated shipment of “The Pale King”, “World War Z” and “The Fire Engine That Disappeared.” Unfortunately, I had opted for Amazon’s free shipping option even though I knew it would take a few days to get to me.

On my desk sat an albatross: “Corporate Water Strategies” by Deloitte’s Will Sarni. He was nice enough to inscribe it to my sons even when I told him I probably wouldn’t read it. So I cracked it open with every intention of putting it down after a few pages. I could then face Will and say “I tried, but...”

After 20 pages I was hooked. The book presents a comprehensive overview of the current research on water and water-related issues. Despite the title, it’s not just required reading for corporations but also for NGOs, municipalities, and everyone else who will be required to partner to ensure local watersheds are sustainable.

Within that one word -- local -- lies the key to the issue and why Will’s book is so valuable. Much of corporate sustainability reporting has been focused on carbon and energy. Many companies have centrally developed strategies for both that can be implemented on a global basis and achieve a significant impact. But water is unique and -- unlike carbon -- all water issues are local, requiring a solid understanding of the local watershed before any strategy can be developed.

Water certainly poses risks to enterprises and Will’s book specifically highlights its potential impact on food & beverage industries, semiconductor manufacturing, power generation, manufacturing, extractive industries and others. But more importantly, it provides the information for all industries to understand critical issues such as “peak water,” water footprinting, and calculating embedded water in both products and services.

“Corporate Water Strategies” is a call to action for every company to move toward water stewardship and constructively engage all stakeholders in crafting 21st century solutions to sustainably managing water.

Moreover, it is a call for the public and private sectors to value water and integrate water stewardship into energy and climate policies and actions. The book’s interviews and case studies with thought leaders and executives from some of the world’s most well-known businesses not only read as a who’s who of worldwide industry leadership, but as an invaluable collection of innovative best practices in corporate water strategies.

There’s hope in the pages of Will Sarni’s book, but managing our water future comes with many challenges as well. “Corporate Water Strategies” points to a future where it will be possible to manage this precious resource. It’s a lot more reassuring than the zombie apocalypse in “World War Z.”