Creating a Water Management Plan

By Martyn Harrison

Recent large global water catastrophes; flooding in Australia, Thailand and the U.S. can hide the fact that there is a global freshwater shortage not just in well publicized countries like Ethiopia and other similarly arid places, but also in developed countries across the globe.

The Carbon Disclosure Project recently release its CDP Water Disclosure Global Report 2011 (PDF). The report is based on a survey of some 190 organization. It found that 57 percent of responding organizations had board-level oversight of water policies, strategies and plans. For Paul Smith, CEO of CDP, that’s not enough. He wrote:

We need to see more companies understand that water is a critical issue, requiring greater board-level attention than it currently receives. Those corporations that navigate the challenges effectively will be able to profit from the significant opportunities that result from a robust water strategy.

A water management plan can deliver both financial and environmental benefits. Here are some examples of water management initiatives I have personal experience with:

  • Undertake a water audit. If you do not have the in-house expertise this may cost some money but the savings should easily cover this. In the U.K. a number of start-ups have formed to help with water audits. See, for example, Waterscan and The Green Water Company.
  • Check water bills (past and present) for inaccuracies. I disputed a large water bill in the U.K. that had a discrepancy of over £25,000 because the original bill was based on historical estimated readings.
  • Install water smart meters. To get a truly accurate picture of your water use in real time these are essential.
  • Ensure your operation complies with all applicable regulations. For instance, regarding water discharge.
  • Publicize your work.

Water has to be on corporate agendas across the globe and not just as an afterthought following electricity and gas. If you’d like to share your experiences with water management, or would like to comment, please leave a comment below.


Martyn Harrison has a Masters’ degree in Resource and Environmental Management and a Bachelors’ degree in Environmental Conservation Management from the UK and loves all aspects of environmental
management and sustainability and how to make the world a better place. He has recently relocated to Singapore to further enhance his career and he is a  doting father of his 16-month-old baby.

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