We’re hearing more and more about water conservation these days. Water doesn’t get the same level of attention that energy does, but there is a growing recognition that overconsumption is leading to serious problems. Of course, it’s already a serious problem in developing nations, where 1.4 billion people live without clean drinking water and 90 percent of waste water goes into lakes and streams untreated.
But water security is also a concern in places like Australia and the Southwest U.S. that have seen population growth collide with drought conditions. In recent years, drought conditions ranging from severe to extreme have also plagued Texas and the Southeast U.S. Even governments in lush countries like Ireland have voiced concerns about the ability to sustain long-term growth without new sources of fresh water.
ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager now encourages owners and managers to track water along with energy usage data. And the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) recently revealed that the number of institutional stock investors signing its request to get corporations to report water management data jumped from 137 in 2009 to 354 in 2010—a 150 percent increase.
The 354 investors control $43 trillion in assets. That’s a big enough base to get the attention of companies that aren’t already looking at their water practices. It won’t surprise me at all to see water usage reporting increase dramatically over the next two years.