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Caesars' water leadership doesn't stay in Vegas

Caesars Entertainment, one of America's largest gaming companies headquartered in Las Vegas, has invested over $70 million dollars in water and energy efficiency projects since 2004. The company has decreased its water consumption by 18 percent since 2008. Caesars CFO Donald Colvin, who describes himself as a practical "penny-pinching Scotsman," says the payback in annual savings from conservation measures at Caesars Nevada properties alone equals $350,000.

Colvin was just one of the many businesses leaders at the Business of Water Corporate Leaders Summit 2.0, held in Las Vegas in late August, who implored other companies to follow Caesars' lead to address the severe water challenges in the Colorado River basin due to a prolonged 14-year-drought.

Corporations, water providers and public officials gathered at the summit, hosted by Protect the Flows and Nuestro Rio, to share best practices and to enhance the dialogue between businesses, water providers, regulators and community groups. The goal: identify win-win solutions for businesses and the environment in the Colorado River basin, where demand for water has outstripped supply.

The number of participants at the summit almost doubled from last year's gathering in Denver, including Caesars, and senior leaders from American Water, Cirque de Soleil, Coca-Cola, Deloitte, Denver Water, Forever Resorts, GE Water, Hunter Industries, KB Home, Metropolitan Water District, New Belgium Brewing, NV Energy, Pardee, Sempra Energy, Southern Nevada Water Authority, Veolia Water, Unilever, Xanterra and other major players in the basin. U.S. Senate Majority Harry Reid, Assistant Secretary Anne Castle from the Department of the Interior and Nevada Sen. Dean Heller (by video) provided supporting conservation messages from the government sector.

Key observations and conclusions

We are all citizens of the basin and we must work together, beyond watershed, water district and state lines to find regional solutions to water challenges and drought in the West. Business, government and water agencies can form coalitions to work together to identify and remove policy barriers to more water conservation, efficiency and water recycling.

[Learn more about food and water systems at VERGE SF 2014, Oct. 27-30.]

Technology and innovation from the private sector play a critical and growing role in addressing water challenges in the West. Technologies that remotely detect leaks, reduce the need for water in commercial manufacturing operations, treat wastewater so it can be re-used and sync with smart phones so consumers have real time data on their water usage patterns are all contributing to more efficient water use. At the same time, these innovations are providing businesses with opportunities to cut costs and to grow their revenue.

A diverse business network such as Protect the Flows (where I serve as director of corporate partnerships) can help develop the appropriate messages and policies that businesses can endorse to move the needle toward a more sustainable water future. Companies are developing creative ways to use their brands to reach out to their constituencies, and they would benefit from working together and with PTF to craft a credible, action-oriented message about what other businesses and their customers can do to make a difference.

Top image of Caesars Palace by Kobby Dagan via Shutterstock.

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