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Event Tasks Companies To Develop Better Water/Energy Relationship

March 19, 2014

I've said it before, I will say it again. People take for granted their access to clean water. I am not excluded from that statement. Recently, my city issued a water conservation alert because our water source, Lake Erie, was frozen over and it caused an issue with the intake pipes at the treatment plant. I took the alert seriously and didn't run the dishwasher, clothes washer or do any unnecessary flushing (if it's yellow, let it mellow. . . I know, too much information). The rationing made me think about how easy my life is compared to my brothers and sisters around the world.

For those who don't have water-conservation alerts to remind them, World Water Day is right around the corner. On March 22 the organizers hope to raise awareness of the inter-linkages between water and energy and contribute to a policy dialogue that focuses on that relationship. They also hope to close the gap for the millions of people who survive without access to safe drinking water, adequate sanitation, sufficient food and energy services.

Another goal for the WWD organizers: Identify key stakeholders in the water-energy nexus and actively engage them in further developing the water-energy linkages.

A quick perusal of Twitter and #WorldWaterDay reveals a few companies that are doing their part.

Via its 2015 Sustainability Goals, Dow Chemical has set targets to introduce three “breakthroughs to world challenges.” Its No. 2 breakthrough, DOW FILMTEC ECO Reverse Osmosis, will fight global water scarcity by helping to deliver 40 percent better purification with 30 percent less energy, according to Dow.

“As this new Dow technology is fully adopted, we anticipate it will deliver trillions of metric tons of clean water, billions of kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy savings, and reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by more than a million metric tons in its first 10 years of use alone,” said Neil Hawkins, corporate vice president of Sustainability at Dow. “This innovation will help deliver a more sustainable water supply to the world, addressing global water scarcity in a very tangible way.”

According to the 2030 Water Resources Group, global water demand is expected to grow exponentially by 2030, greatly outpacing supply. While consumers might experience limitations to household water consumption as a result of drought conditions, they may have less visibility to significant opportunities for water efficiency in the production of the goods and services they use every day. For example, it takes 2,867 gallons of water to make just one pair of jeans, or 39,090 gallons of water to manufacture a new car.

BASF uses water in the manufacture of products, for cooling and cleaning, and as a means of transportation.  BASF is unceasing in its efforts to reuse as much water as possible in circulation. In 2009, the company developed a new water supply concept at its Verbund site in Antwerp. Until now, the site used drinking water in production. Since 2011 onward, the water is being drawn from surface water in a tidal freshwater area in the southern part of the Netherlands.

As for me, I'm finally going to build those rain barrels I've been meaning to install in my yard to take advantage of the rainwater to water my plants during dry spells. Now if only the ice on the lake would thaw.

Traci PurdumSenior Digital Editor and grateful recipient of potable water and flush toilets. You can e-mail me at [email protected].

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