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Water policy will come under closer scrutiny in 2010. What's your posture?

Sometimes, in our struggling to apply sustainability strategy to things of industry -- electricity in particular -- we forget about protecting the simpler, more basic stuff, like water.

Based on what I'm hearing recently from some of the largest high-tech companies, this isn't an oversight we'll be able to tolerate for much longer. I'd be willing to lay odds that you will start hearing just as much about water management during 2010 as you'll hear about the smart grid and carbon management.

Two examples from just the past week:

  • Hewlett-Packard has come out big as a sponsor of Summit on the Summit: Kiliminjaro, a celebrity-driven climb that is intended to raise awareness of the "global clean water crisis." For every view of videos on its Summit on the Summit Facebook page, HP will contribute 100 liters of clean water. It's a unique example of how you can use social media to promote a worthy cause AND your brand at the same time.
  • On the more tactical side, IBM just announced three different relationships illustrating how its resource management software and technology can be applied to the water problem. The first relationship is with the Lower Colorado River Authority, a public non-profit that manages water supply and other resources across Central and South Texas. The utility is specifically using IBM Maximo Asset Management software along with a mobile application that was developed by one of its business partners, Syclo. Here's more information. In a second agreement (worth $14.5 million to IBM), the company is designing an asset management system for Power and Water Corp. in Sydney Australia. The arrangement will focus on how to balance the utility's very diverse geographic territory, which ranges from desert to tropic climates. The final deal is with the Fukuoka District Waterworks Agency in Japan, which plans to use IBM technology to help design a system for increasing the availability of the usable water supply and to improve water quality in communities across its district. Among the district's assets are the Seawater Desalination Plant, which supports 2.3 million residents. Here's more information about the system.

Mind you, both the examples above clearly are public sector-type projects. But I believe businesses the commercial sector will be pressed to step up their own internal projects related to water waste associated with data centers, factors, unnecessary landscaping and the like.

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure