Importance of a Water Conservation Plan
A water conservation plan turns goals into action, ensuring your business is taking the necessary steps to reduce its water use and any impact it may have on local water resources and the people and wildlife that rely on them. Having a concrete plan for sustainable water management is critical when you look at the impacts of water scarcity. It is estimated that by 2025, half of the world’s population could live in water-stressed areas, propelling the demand for water past available supply.
Think of your water conservation plan as a living document that will grow and evolve with your business as you continue to improve your water management practices. A well developed conservation plan provides a solid foundation for making steady progress but also leaves room for adjustment.
A water conservation plan is as much of a tool as it is an act of accountability. Your water conservation plan should echo your commitment to being a responsible business and your mission towards creating a healthy, secure future for all.
Important Elements to Include in Your Water Conservation Plan
A well developed water conservation plan should be a comprehensive look into your full operations yet remain organized and easy to digest, ensuring staff at all levels can have a better understanding of your business water use and impacts, as well as how to implement water reduction strategies on the job.
Here are important elements to include in your water conservation plan:
- Purpose of the water conservation plan, highlighting specific business impacts on water resources and the communities/wildlife that rely on them
- Clearly outlined water reduction goals with a set timeline for achievement
- Metrics around the sources and quantity of water used in your operations (both direct and indirect water use). Identify any system inefficiencies (i.e. outdated equipment). This data is often generated from a water audit, another valuable addition to your sustainability portfolio.
- Protocols for tracking water use and wastages and how to record important benchmark data
- Clearly outlined water reduction strategies along with supporting resources
- Water management training resources for all employees including remote workers
Key Tips for a Successful Water Conservation Plan
The most successful water conservation plans are those that are designed to be continually reviewed and built upon, leading you towards new achievements well into the future of your business. Here are key tips for keeping the momentum of your water conservation plan going.
- Announce your conservation plan across the company and to stakeholders. It’s important to keep your team and stakeholders aware of your efforts in sustainability and what changes they can expect to see.
- Schedule a training session with staff to go over the water conservation plan in full. This can be done as an in-person presentation or video recorded and sent out via email.
- Schedule monthly or quarterly check-ins to discuss the progress of the conservation plan. This ensures your reduction goals don’t fade into the background overtime. Relay progress and key discussion points to all staff and in newsletters to your partners and subscribers.
- Seek employee feedback. Invite staff at all levels to bring forth their questions and feedback surrounding the conservation plan. Consider sending out regular polls to generate a consensus around the strengths and weaknesses of your current plan.
- Plan for necessary system improvements. As your water conservation plan progresses, you may identify system inefficiencies along the way such as outdated equipment/fixtures, faulty valves, leaks, etc. Work with your purchasing manager to plan out the most feasible way to make water-efficient upgrades and/or repairs. You should check the warranties of any equipment you use and contact the manufacturer for information on their newer models or replacement parts.
- Invest in education and outreach. Extend the impact of your conservation plan by educating the public about why water conservation is important and how they can help. Rally your most passionate green thinkers to speak at community events, school programs and other outreach efforts. If you’re feeling extra ambitious, consider building a blog page on your website to include articles/videos on your water conservation efforts.
- Combine with a sustainability certification program. Many companies today are using multiple sustainability programs to have a more holistic approach to green business practices. Adopting an additional sustainability certification program only reinforces your water conservation plan, potentially offering new insight on how to make it even stronger. The Green Business Bureau certification program, for example, provides several water-related initiatives as part of the GBB Eco Library, allowing businesses to build their water conservation strategies at their own pace.
Starting your water conservation plan from scratch? Thankfully there are some great resources online from which to draw inspiration.
The U.S Water Alliance in collaboration with The Council of State Governments (CSG) has created a comprehensive state-focused water management plan for policymakers. It can give you some ideas on how to lay out your own water conservation plan, along with valuable perspectives on water conservation strategies and issues facing the world today.
Water Footprint Implementation in collaboration with the Water Footprint Network provides an assessment tool for businesses to calculate their water footprint including both direct and indirect water use in their operations and products.
Keep global efforts in mind when discussing your water conservation efforts with your team. UN-Water, which coordinates the United Nations’ work on water and sanitation, highlights global efforts towards Sustainable Development Goal 6 “Clean Water and Sanitation” including data and progress reports.
You should also look to the peers and leaders within your industry for guidance. Consider these companies going “water positive” to help build water security for the future.
Whether you’re an experienced green business or just getting started, water sustainability should be at the forefront of your green efforts. Actively improving your resource management strategies is not only beneficial to your business cost savings, but it’s the right thing to do. To recap,
Some important elements to include in your water conservation plan:
- Purpose of the water conservation plan
- Specific business impacts on water resources, the community and wildlife
- Water reduction goals
- A timeline for achievement
- Water audit metrics
- Protocols for tracking water use/wastages and documenting inefficiencies
- Water reduction strategies along with supporting resources
- Water management training resources for all employees
Key tips for maintaining the momentum of your water conservation plan:
- Announce your conservation plan across the company and to stakeholders
- Schedule a training session to go over the water conservation plan
- Schedule monthly or quarterly check-ins to discuss the progress
- Seek employee feedback
- Plan for necessary system improvements
- Invest in education and outreach
- Combine with a sustainability certification program
For more information on sustainable water management, check out our other articles, “How to Implement a Water Audit for Business” and “Water Sustainability: What Does It Mean For Business?”