5 Reasons Why Water Treatment Matters for Business and the Environment
Clean water access might be a basic human right on paper, yet billions face daily struggles to obtain safe drinking water and sanitation. Even developed countries like the UK experience droughts and release huge quantities of untreated sewage into waterways, making water treatment an environmental and business imperative.
Implementing efficient systems benefits sectors by conserving energy, supporting sustainability goals, enhancing reputation, and mitigating risks, which we’ll explore below.
1. Reduce energy consumption.
Treating wastewater reduces energy usage and costs. Physical, biological, and chemical treatment processes require substantial energy expenditure.
Upgrading to innovative technologies like forward osmosis that minimise requirements returns the investment by lowering ongoing energy needs. This has the biggest impact for industry and agriculture, where energy is money.
For example, optimising treatment processes can reduce a plant’s energy usage by 30%. Considering rising energy prices, reducing consumption through efficient water treatment provides significant cost savings.
2. Support sustainability goals.
Improving water quality and access aligns with UN Sustainable Development Goal 6: sustainable water management. Specific targets include wastewater treatment, safe reuse, and increased efficiency.
On-site treatment at facilities eases the strain on centralised systems while minimising corporate water footprints through reuse. This enhances community resilience while contributing to water sanitation globally. Approximately 70% of available freshwater is used by agriculture, so recycling is crucial, especially in water-stressed regions.
3. Strengthen ESG performance.
Stakeholders now prioritise corporate ESG impact. Water projects specifically drive shareholder and customer value.
Amid rising urban water costs, on-site treatment offers returns through reuse. Decentralised systems also benefit overall water quality by reducing reliance on public works. This allows companies across sectors to strengthen environmental programs and reputations.
4. Mitigate operational, regulatory, and reputational risks.
Water treatment reduces facility risks. Plant managers often focus on financial factors, but holistic analysis reveals mitigating operational, regulatory, and reputational risks.
Having contingency plans if public works fail ensures business continuity. As regulations tighten, including potential UK changes, compliance grows more complex.
Meanwhile, environmentally conscious consumers make purchasing decisions based on corporate stewardship. Fines for regulatory breaches carry financial penalties, but reputation damage may prove costlier still—proper treatment safeguards against sewage leaks that could spur a public backlash and lead to hefty fines.
5. Manage environmental reputation.
Proper wastewater treatment helps heavy-polluting industries maintain a positive environmental reputation. It also demonstrates compliance with regulations, curtails reputational risks from backlash, and signals an industry’s commitment to managing its environmental footprint responsibly.
Another factor for significant polluters is retaining their permit to operate by meeting regulatory requirements for water treatment and discharge. Losing this licence will no doubt have a negative impact on their reputation.
The public’s expectations are also shifting towards companies taking ownership of their pollution, making responsible water stewardship a moral obligation and a savvy strategy.