Water conservation projects that “value nature” can help improve business decision-making and risk management — while saving companies money — according to a new study published in the journal Ecosystem Services.
The research was conducted as part of the Dow Chemical Company and The Nature Conservancy’s multi-year collaboration to help Dow and the broader business community recognize, value and incorporate nature into global business goals, decisions and strategies.
The study, Finding Solutions to Water Scarcity: Incorporating Ecosystem Service Values into Business Planning at The Dow Chemical Company’s Freeport, Texas Facility, addresses challenges businesses face to correctly estimate the value of water resources and address future scarcity threats. It explores the business value of a healthy river that provides inexpensive, reliable water, as well as how this value would change with anticipated impacts of climate change and increased future demand for water.
Researchers analyzed five potential solutions to future water scarcity that involved nature and collaboration with other water users. The freshwater analysis was conducted at Dow’s Texas Operations facility in Freeport, Texas, at the mouth of the Brazos River. The analysis found that three of the five solutions were more cost-competitive than traditional solutions:
- Restoring floodplains to expand reservoir storage.
- Financing irrigation efficiency technology.
- A municipal rebate program for low-flow toilets or low-water-use landscaping.
The researchers also found that these three solutions could provide substantial collective benefits to the public and biodiversity, suggesting that such solutions may be appropriate for implementation via multi-stakeholder collaboration.
The study was jointly led by scientists from The Nature Conservancy and Dow, with research support from Colorado State University and Duke University.
The study supports Dow’s 2025 Sustainability Goals, which include a Goal on “Valuing Nature,” through which Dow seeks to deliver $1 billion in value through projects that are good for business and for ecosystems.
Photo: dry soil due to drought in Texas via Shutterstock