Assessing a Company's Water Risks

By Daniel Stouffer

As many organizations rely implicitly on the use of water, risks associated with its use should be comprehensively assessed in order to assure sustainability. These risks can change from one particular industry to another and from one company to another, but they are invariably complex and tied to numerous different scenarios. In short, it's not simply enough to question whether water will be available, as complex socioeconomic and political issues factor into the equation.

It is important to realize that no organization exists in a vacuum. As the company relies on the procurement of resources from outside its boundaries, so it cannot assume that these resources will be available based on purely economic factors alone.

As there are a number of organizations that are heavily reliant on the consumption of water, risks related to it need to be assessed in a comprehensive way to ensure sustainability. These risks can change from one particular industry to another and from one company to another, but they are invariably complex and tied to numerous different scenarios. In short, it's not simply enough to question whether water will be available, as complex socioeconomic and political issues factor into the equation.

Water can be a very emotive subject, as it is regularly viewed as a finite resource, especially in arid months when we hear about the arrival of drought conditions. Electricity, one of the most essential resources for a company, would so often appear to be available, if at all.

Organizations need to assess all the water risks: what should happen in the event of drought, or conversely what should happen if significant flooding events occur? Wherever water is sourced, how could regional events or other developments affect its availability? These questions would need a deeper knowledge of the area, a feel of the political climate and a good demographic knowledge.

How the respective regional government where your organization is visible would be effective? In a distributed setup, knowledge of the internal workings of the different teams in the government would be needed. Historically, how do they treat water risks and related issues? How are they likely to react to certain scenarios?

As everybody is confronted with major issues related to water risks, corporations of individual consumer alike, climate issues may affect the availability of water for the consumption of organizations. As this concern is very compelling, legislators and politicians would be most likely to favor the individual consumer and could take unfair action in terms of the legislation, in the event that water crisis would arise.

Whenever a company assesses its water risk, it should also address its disposal or runoff risks. Water consumption is one thing, though if any of the industrial processes would lead to runoff, how this would be managed? Issues related to the environment are getting more substantial attention and any organization needs to manage its ecological impacts to keep it to at minimum as possible.

A comprehensive water risk assessment will reveal all potential setbacks and develop numerous "what if" scenarios. Every company must be prepared for a challenge to its water use and be able to justify its position accordingly.


Article by Daniel Stouffer
Sustainability Resource Planning (SRP) software from Verisae helps to manage water usage across global organizations. Enterprise-wide and facility-based water consumption must be accurately gauged using reports, meters and software analysis. Learn more at www.verisae.com/articles

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