World Water Day 2016: Companies Pledge $1 Billion for Water R&D
Today is World Water Day, an annual event started by the United Nations to raise awareness about global water scarcity and water safety. Both issues have affected the US this year as some regions struggle with drought and thousands of people were exposed to unsafe levels of lead following the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.
As part of World Water Day the White House is hosting a summit to discuss water saving strategies and technologies, and major businesses are making commitments to improve water management. Here are some highlights:
More than $1 billion from the private sector over the next decade to conduct research and development into new technologies. This includes $500 million from General Electric, focusing on advanced water, wastewater and reuse technologies.
The White House recognized sustainability advocacy organization Ceres’ water initiatives. One of Ceres’ efforts, Connect the Drops, which organizes businesses around the issue in drought-plagues California, added five new members: Anheuser-Busch InBev, Annie’s, Eileen Fisher, Kellogg and Xylem. In joining Connect the Drops, companies agree to 1) make and implement business commitments to support California’s action plan for water conservation, and 2) engage with policymakers, employees, customers and their peers on improving water management and enhancing water efficiency in the state.
Water technology company Xylem will invest at least $300 million in water-focused research and development activities through 2018. In collaboration with the US Water Partnership, Xylem will issue a new national water-innovation challenge with funding of $50,000, focused on growing demand for water, protecting cities from flood and drought, and protecting water resources.
General Mills, an existing Connect the Drop signatory, pledged to champion development of water stewardship plans in the most material, high-risk watersheds in its global supply chains by 2025. As part of this commitment, the company will lead corporate collaboration efforts, foster development of foundational tools, and advocate science-based policy in these watersheds.
Genentech, also a Connect the Drop signatory, announced that it is piloting a project to treat manufacturing process wastewater and distribute it via a purple pipe network for reuse in buildings throughout its South San Francisco campus. The project is expected to save 60 million gallons of water per year by 2020.
Levi Strauss & Co., another Connect the Drop signatory, announced it is making its Water<Less finishing techniques publicly available to spur water conservation across the apparel industry. The techniques reduce water use in garment finishing by up to 96 percent and have helped the company save more than 1 billion liters of water since 2011. Levi’s also announced today the company’s goal to train 100 percent of its corporate employees on water conservation through its ongoing partnership with Project WET, a non-profit that offers water education to help people understand and value water and ensure a sustainable future.
Evoqua Water Technologies, which participated in the White House water summit, announced it will double the amount of water it treats for reuse and reclamation to 5 billion gallons of water a day by 2021, which will reduce demand on drinking water sources. As part of this, Evoqua will expand development and adoption of its Nexed electrochemical desalination modules and other filtration technologies.
Water and wastewater utility American Water participated in the summit and pledged $3 million in new research in 2016, on top of the $5.5 billion the company committed to investing in the next five years to help improve service reliability and quality for customers. American Water also announced new collaborations with GE and ComEd. The GE collaboration includes a digital initiative that will use the industrial internet of things to help solve challenges in the water industry. The ComEd partnership includes a project in advanced metering infrastructure that will use new information technologies to better manage water usage and water quality.
MGM Resorts International partnered with WaterStart, a Nevada organization that connects water managers, technology companies, investors and policy makers to commercialize water saving technologies. Under the partnership, MGM will operate as a “test-bed” for companies working to improve water resource management and sustainability.
Water technology company Triple Clear Water Solutions launched its Seromix advanced metals removal technology for municipal water supplies and industrial water treatment and remediation. The White House also recognized the company for its commitment to donate 1 percent of its sales, expected to be more than $1 million over the next several years, to fund clean-water initiatives in communities.
Dow Chemical signed a collaboration agreement with the 2030 Water Resources Group, a public-private partnership, to support its activities at the global and national levels. The partnership will be centered on multi-stakeholder collaboration between public, private and civil society actors in the area of sustainable water resources management.
Cox Enterprises, which participated in the water summit, has set goals of becoming water- and carbon-neutral and sending zero waste to landfill by 2044. As part of these goals, Cox has pledged to reduce its water use by 6.5 percent annually through four efforts: reclaim about 10 million gallons of water annually through Water Conservation Centers; partner with American Rivers and Ocean Conservancy for water cleanups in Cox locations across the US; deploy new technology and water-efficient fixtures throughout Cox facilities; and use xeriscaping at locations with large land footprints to save more than 42 million gallons of water annually.
Don’t miss our Environmental Leader 2016 Conference in June.
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