Aqueduct News Roundup: The Importance of Water Data, and the Hidden Prices of Water Management
The stories in this month’s Aqueduct News Roundup are focused on two central themes. The first theme is the importance of data in water management: February saw the introduction of compelling new data sets, as well as water users in the private and public sectors coming to grips with the importance (and difficulty) of acquiring good water data. The second theme is cost: several stories emerged in February that demonstrated the sometimes staggering price tags associated with water for governments and companies alike.
Aqueduct’s efforts to quantify and map complex water related risks are centered at the intersection of these two trends – the importance of data and the complicated prices we pay for water.
Bloomberg – “India May Spend $1 Billion to Map Aquifers, Avert Water Crisis” The Indian government is considering investing as much as $1 billion over the next 5 years to map groundwater supplies nationwide. In a country where competitive groundwater extraction has expanded dramatically in recent decades, the need for better data to understand and manage water resources is becoming increasingly apparent. This article is evidence that generating better data is an essential first step towards resource management, and often a very difficult and expensive step to take.
New Zealand Herald – “Meridian Says Water Caution could Hit Earnings” This article provides another example of the direct impacts of water on companies’ financial statements. Drought conditions have forced New Zealand power provider Meridian Energy to cut generation in its hydropower facilities. The cuts in generation have prompted the company to warn that it may fall short of its financial targets.
Construction Digital – “China’s $79 Billion Water Project Ready by 2013” This article is about another large price tag associated with water. The South-North Water Transfer Project, a sometimes controversial infrastructure investment to bring water from the wet South of China to the dry industrial North, is nearing completion.
WSJ MarketWatch - “Sustainability ‘Megaforces’ Impact on Business Will Accelerate, Finds KPMG” The world of water has been abuzz in February over a new analysis presented by KPMG which identified ten “megaforces” (including water scarcity) that could significantly impact global corporate growth in the next twenty years. The research unearthed some alarming figures: it estimates that the (often unmeasured) environmental costs paid by businesses are measured in the hundreds of billions of dollars, and could double every 14 years going forward.
GreenBiz - “5 Ways Leading Companies Dive into Water Management” This piece identifies the crucial characteristics of businesses’ water management initiatives. Three of the five characteristics are data-related – reporting of water use and performance, setting clear and measurable targets for water management, and supporting water strategies with metering and other data sources.
New York Times – “Tracking How the World Guzzles Water” Finally, February marked the introduction of an exciting new study and set of maps that illustrate some of the key trends of water use around the world. Scientists from the Netherlands’ University of Twente released maps that show which parts of the world are responsible for the most water use. The researchers also created maps which illustrate the flow of virtual water (water embedded in the production of an exportable commodity) in global trade.
In the coming months, Aqueduct will be paying close attention to water related news in the river basins we are studying at the moment. Southern Africa’s Orange-Senqu basin and Australia’s Murray-Darling, both of which will have Aqueduct maps released online in the coming months, face complex and varying water challenges that can help us understand and inform water management strategies worldwide.