Is water the Goldilocks of Sustainability?
Today’s post is a guest blog by kindred spirits over at the Vivian Partnership. They run Oomph seminars which we love because they are all about generating ideas that excite and inspire.
The most recent Oomph Seminar was hosted by brothers Dan & Ben Vivian and presented by James Dodds of Envireau Water. The session looked at how we can consider water as a resource.
Here is Dan’s write up of the event.
Water is understood to be essential to life but in the fickle world of sustainability it is often considered a poor relation to carbon in how much it is discussed and the focus for management. James pointed out that water is very different from carbon in how we should consider it. While carbon is merely considered in the quantity that is emitted, water must be considered both quantitatively and qualitatively. Water quality is an essential consideration in the water cycles that affect all of us on a micro and a global scale.
Therefore just as the young lady from the fairy tale was rather picky about her porridge, so should we be in a consideration of the use of water at our disposal. In general terms there is often either too much of the stuff or too little, rarely is it just right – just ask any farmer.
Much discussion in the Oomph Seminar focused on whether this knowledge is of use in behaviour change campaigns encouraging the more responsible use of water in organisations; or domestically. It is interesting that a common response to water saving messages is that water is endlessly recycled in the water cycle. Therefore why should individuals bother to be careful with its use?
The consideration of water cycles is vital to an understanding of it, but we must all remember that its recyclability is not necessarily on an annual or predictable timescale. Sometimes it is locked away in ground water or in abundance on fertile, populated lands. Just think about last year’s disastrous flooding of the Somerset Levels – where is that water now in its endless cycle?
The consideration of water is complex as it brings life but can also undermine the development of communities. An essential learning to take from this session was to try and consider water from all the points at which it is used. Businesses, organisations and communities should try and integrate their approaches to managing water; so that, for example, high quality drinking water is used only where it is demanded.
James’s passing remark was describing fine single malt whiskey rather prosaically as Barley Juice. His consideration of the water footprint of a whiskey distilling client was that 96% of its water use was not in the distilling nor the malting processes but in the fields where the barley is grown. It is therefore the greatest risk to the organisation that its supply of barley has the optimum supply of water. A very pointed reminder to all business to look to its supply chains to how they are managing the most essential of resources.
Here’ is a link to James’ presentation. Oomph 22-1-15
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