The World Business Council for Sustainable Development works to provide business solutions for a more sustainable world. The latest customization of the Global Water Tool, a tool that allows companies to proactively manage their water use and assess risks related to their operations and supply chain, will allow cement companies to more effectively manage water consumption.

By: Mauro Marinetti, IEM Process Lead Europe, CH2M HILL

Developed in conjunction with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBSCD), the suite of Global Water Tools (GWT) helps companies in mapping their water use and assessing risks relative to their global operations and supply chains. With the latest release, the GWT now includes a sector customization for cement companies, adding to the customizations already in place for power utilities and the oil and gas industry.

So What Exactly is the Global Water Tool?

Water availability and discharge practices are becoming critical factors in industrial activities. Today, an industry’s license to operate is linked to companies’ ability to manage water issues to the satisfaction of its stakeholders. If not proactively managed, these factors may create bottom line financial pressures including: increased operating costs, penalties, fines, and settlements, as well as steady demands on capital budgets for equipment.

An increasing number of companies find themselves targets of campaigns by local communities, agriculture, regulators, environmental activists, and other industries to reduce water usage and the impacts of wastewater.

The GWT is a tool for companies to map their industrial and non-industrial sites to view a picture of their water uses and risks relative to water availability in their global operations and supply chains.

The GWT allows companies to quickly and accurately answer key questions such as:

  • How many of our sites are in extremely water-scarce areas? Which sites are at the greatest risk? How will that look in the future?
  • How many of our employees live in countries that lack access to improved water and sanitation?
  • How many of our suppliers are in water-scarce areas now? How many will be in 2025?

The tool allows companies to:

  • Compare its water use (including staff presence, industrial use, and supply chain) with validated information on the availability of water and sanitation, both on a country and watershed basis;
  • Calculate water consumption and efficiency;
  • Establish relative water risks in the organization’s portfolio;
  • Create key Global Reporting Initiative indicators on water, inventories, risk, and performance metrics; and
  • Facilitate effective communications between internal and external stakeholders on the company’s water issues.

Using this tool is a crucial first step for companies striving to better manage their water use.

Cement Sector Benefits from New Tool

The Cement Sector Initiative (CSI), an industry group within WBCSD, stewarded the customization of the general GWT for the Cement Sector. Working with CH2M HILL on developing the tool, CSI member companies provided insight on the specific characteristics of the cement value chain so the GWT could be optimized for the operation of these companies.

The tool, released in October 2013 (soon to available on WBCSD’s website), will help companies in the Cement Sector map their water use and assess risks for their overall global portfolio of sites considering each part of the cement industry value chain.

The commitment by CSI members to develop this tool demonstrates how companies are taking a risk-based approach to addressing this issue.

Download the tool here.

Mauro Marinetti is the Industrial, Energy and Mining (IEM) Process Lead at CH2M HILL—Europe. He has 12 years of experience in water and wastewater treatment, working mainly on projects for industrial applications. He earned his Environmental Engineering degree and Ph.D. at Politechnico di Milano, Italy and joined CH2M HILL’s team in 2007. His expertise ranges from industrial wastewater treatment; biological processes for wastewater treatment; water re-use studies; feasibility study, experimental phase development, laboratory testing phase and pilot plant management for industrial application of physical-chemical and biological treatments; sludge dewatering; process design; and process modeling for biological treatment and desalination with membrane technologies. Mauro works in CH2M HILL’s Milan, Italy office.