Change the Course: Lessons from a water stewardship movement — GreenBiz

Hayfield message to President Obama 2011 via Protect the Flows
Hayfield message to President Obama 2011 via Protect the Flows

From (Sandra Postel/Val Fishman):

We’re not going to pull any punches. We’re building a water stewardship movement, and we hope you’ll join us. More than 130,000 people and 22 companies already have. Our goal is nothing less than to change the way society uses, manages and values freshwater.

By now most of us have heard the pronouncement “water is the new oil.” But in fact, it’s so much more. Water is the basis not only of our economies, but of life itself.

As demands bump up against the limits of a finite supply, rivers are running dry, lakes are shrinking and groundwater is being depleted. From California to China to Brazil, severe droughts have forced curtailments of water deliveries. This year, for the first time, the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, ranked water crises as the No. 1 global threat.

Known risks
Companies know that water risks pose bottom-line risks, and many have begun to boost their water productivity, getting more output and revenue per gallon used. Manufacturing facilities are recycling and reusing water. More food and beverage companies are working actively with their raw-ingredient suppliers to shrink the water footprints of their products.

Curbing water use is essential. But what do we do about the dammed and dried-up rivers and depleted wetlands?

In the Colorado River Basin alone, a $26 billion-a-year recreation economy depends not on water being diverted out of rivers, but on flows staying in rivers. During the drought of 2012, the western Colorado tourist town of Steamboat Springs saw cash registers go silent when the Yampa River dropped too low for rafting and fly-fishing.

Water security depends on meeting the needs of people and ecosystems. Achieving it requires two things: Figure out how to live happy and productive lives while consuming less water; and restore flows to depleted rivers and freshwater ecosystems.

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