Think of all the times you've turned on a faucet and no water came out.
I'll be the first to admit I can't remember the last time this possibility even crossed my mind. The truth is we take water for granted, and don't stop to question its seemingly unlimited abundance.
Recently we've seen clear signs that it is time we pay attention.
The damage caused by the 2012 U.S. drought cost the country more than $35 billion [PDF], and similar droughts are projected to hit the country over the coming years. McKinsey [PDF] has also estimated that in just 20 years, demand for water will be 40 percent higher than it is now. This would inevitably result in increased water costs for everyone, including companies.
Despite the imminent and serious business risks associated with water shortage, too few companies are taking concrete steps to protect themselves.
In a report released in October 2012, KPMG [PDF] found that while 76 percent of the world's top 250 companies addressed water issues in their corporate responsibility reporting, less than 40 percent demonstrate any long-term plans to manage their water usage, including strategies for reducing and treating water consumed.
KPMG found that the mining sector had the highest rate (100 percent) of reporting on water reduction and treatment strategies. The consulting firm projected that other water-intensive sectors, such as agriculture and the oil and gas industries (in which less than half of companies interviewed reported having reduction and treatment plans), would be next to face rising public pressure around managing their water usage.
Next page: The Water Score Card Guide
Faucet image by drpnncpptak via Shutterstock.