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Water Wednesday: PepsiCo, Nature Conservancy share watershed lessons

Water Wednesday: PepsiCo, Nature Conservancy share watershed lessons

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Water Wednesday: PepsiCo, Nature Conservancy share watershed lessons, prep decision-making tool

Contributor’s Note: This is an ongoing column in water sustainability, consumption and management issues. The rationale is simple: water is a more urgent priority for corporate social responsibility programs and becoming more so every day.

PepsiCo, Nature Conservancy share watershed lessons, prep strategy development framework
This week, during World Water Week in Stockholm, PepsiCo is discussing learnings from five very different watershed management projects that it is running across its global organization. What's more, the food and beverage giant will discuss a strategy framework tool it is developing using those lessons. That tool will be used to help assess and gauge the potential impact of future projects, said Liese Dallbauman, director of water stewardship for PepsiCo.

Dallbauman said one of the most important questions that an organization must answer when assessing water management priorities is this: Do you know the source of your water?

"That is not the same question as, who is your supplier, it is the ultimate source you are looking to determine," said Dallbauman, when I spoke to her prior to her trip to Stockholm this week. "Has your source been stable? Have you had problems with quality?"

The answers to these and related questions will help corporate sustainability managers and municipal governments understand which areas or sites within their operations or city limits might be water-stressed and which might benefit from a conservation or mitigation strategy, Dallbauman said. "But it is not a linear path," she cautioned.

The framework was developed, in large part, from the data collected by PepsiCo and the Nature Conservancy during give different watershed projects. The findings of those projects are detailed in a white paper published by the organizations called, "Striving for Positive Impact." The report covers five very different situations and locations: Phoenix, Arizona; Boxford, in the United Kingdom's Suffolk region; Zhanjiang in the Guangdong Province of China; Sangareddy in Andhra Pradesh, India; and Mexico City.

One of the most galvanizing findings for Dallbauman and the PepsiCo water management team was the fact that the water management solution for each of these regions was different, which validates the growing consensus among many corporate sustainability experts that water strategies will be very locally based and will rely heavily on decisions by individual business units. As you'll see from the findings listed near the end of the story, most units have multiple water usage or "mitigation" efforts under way.

According to PepsiCo:

  • 1 in 5 of the largest "business water users" is already feeling the impact of water risks
  • Water security is among the top 10 global risks to business
  • More than 20 percent of gross domestic product is "at risk" because of water stress issues

I'm guessing that many of you will want to download the report and read for yourself, but here are the water management solutions being considered at each of the five areas covered:

Phoenix

The site includes two bottling plants and a Frito-Lay plant. The water mitigation strategies include:

  • Improvements to irrigation system
  • Work on municipal groundwater management

Boxford

The location for a juicing and bottling plant. The water mitigation strategies under consideration are:

  • Waterwater reuse

Zhanjiang

PepsiCo's footprint here includes a bottling plant that is located on an inlet to the South China Sea. The water mitigation strategies include:

  • Waterwater reuse
  • Rainwater harvesting at the facility AND at surrounding rural areas

Sangareddy

The location is home to the bottling plant for Aradhana Foods & Juices, which is a PepsiCo business unit. The water mitigation strategies include:

  • Rainwater harvesting at the facility
  • Revitalization and rehabilitation of water infrastructure in nearby villages
  • Better irrigation practices

Mexico City

There are six food facilities being run by PepsiCo here, which makes this location a bit different; the is also a beverage plant nearby. The water mitigation strategies for the region include:

  • Rainfall "retention" in the mountains near Mexico City
  • Restoration of a local lake Tiahuac-Xico)
  • Wastewater reuse

Related SmartPlanet posts:

Past Water Wednesday posts:

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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