Businesses, government and environmental organizations must collaborate to solve the problem of clean drinking water, according to a new report about the major concerns of Americans from Nestle Waters North America (conducted by global research firm PSB). Americans expected businesses to play a role in ensuring that people have access to clean drinking water (at 35%). They also expect local and state governments (71%), federal government (65%) and consumers themselves (39%) to ensure access to clean water. Experts, also surveyed, expect businesses to play a role (40%), as well.
At 61% and 66% respectively, consumers and experts both say water problems are either a crisis or a major crisis in the US.
Nelson Switzer, chief sustainability officer of Nestle Waters NA, believes that companies would do well to engage with employees, suppliers, communities, non-profits, policy makers and other stakeholders to drive collaboration and innovation. “We can accomplish far more together than we can alone,” Switzer says.
In a Q&A with Environmental Leader last month, Switzer pointed out that, though we cannot create water, we cannot destroy it, either. “Can it be polluted? Yes. Has it been? In many cases. However, as long as we protect the water systems, the water systems will filter our water, will recharge, and will continue to feed the systems that need it.”
The challenge, he said, is making sure there is enough water to service everything. Can it serve all the people, the industries, the environmental demands? “If we manage the system appropriately, the answer is yes,” Switzer said. “Whatever change happens, as long as it is equitable across the board so that it applies to all industries and all people, I think we’ll see a shift in how people use and regard water. We’re going to see a new sense of value for water that has never been there before,” he told Environmental Leader.