However, the majority of companies surveyed do not appear to be planning to scale up their water risk management practices — about 70 percent of responding companies said their current level of investment in water management is sufficient.
In Bridging Concern with Action: Are US Companies Prepared for Looming Water Challenges?, the Pacific Institute and VOX Global surveyed senior officials who have direct responsibility for water issues from more than 50 companies including AT&T, Cummins, The Hershey Company, MillerCoors, and Union Pacific Railroad.
Nearly 60 percent of responding companies indicated that water is poised to negatively affect business growth and profitability within five years, while more than 80 percent said it will affect their decision on where to locate facilities. This is an increase from only five years ago, when water issues affected business growth and profitability for less than 20 percent of responding companies.
Some companies find that relatively small investments can produce a significant return on investment in mitigating water risks, the report says. According to John Schulz, assistant vice president, sustainability operations, AT&T: “Relatively small capital investments can bring about nearly 10 times the amount of savings in annual water and energy costs.”
In a study published last year, the Pacific Institute said investing in water efficiency and re-use projects will address growing problems associated with drought, flooding and contamination, and create thousands of jobs in a wide range of professions by 2020.