Efficient water management can drive long term business success
Dow Water & Process Solutions, the global leader in sustainable water separation and purification technologies identifies water trends and warns businesses to invest in water management to save bottom line
Water is one of the most precious elements on our planet, but its importance to businesses is often drastically undervalued. Many businesses are starting to recognize the intrinsic value of water beyond its monetary price. In an increasingly thirsty world, water means business.
The dimensions in valuing water are tied directly to business resilience, continuity, social license to operate and contribution to brand value. Concerns about water costs are having an increasing effect on operations and financial performance. Between 2011 and 2014 research shows, companies spent over $84 billion worldwide to improve water management, through direct conservation policies or investments in monitoring and management. Many companies across the globe are integrating water saving policies into their business strategies. Businesses that have already done so are reporting up to 40% reduced costs as a result.
Zakia Bahjou, Regional Commercial Manager, Middle East, Africa and Turkey, Dow Water & Process Solutions, explains: “Future water sustainability is core component of our work at Dow Water & Process Solutions. There is a growing need for advanced technologies and solutions that allow the production of high quality freshwater more efficiently. Our scientists have focused their research on energy efficiency and found that through configurational energy and element design, significant energy savings could be realized. As a result, our solutions can reduce energy consumption by up to 30%, reflecting Dow’s commitment to solving water scarcity and bringing down the cost of water in the Middle East and across the globe.”
Many countries in the Middle East, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), are facing real water challenges. In these arid cities, groundwater and surface water resources are dwindling due to population growth and climate change. When looking at water consumption averages by country, UAE citizen’s average, 8,600 liters a day; KSA citizen’s average, 5,100 liters a day; while the global average sits at just 3,794 liters of water a day.
Compounding the water consumption problem is the continued growth of industry in the Middle East. According to an IHS research report, defense services, chemicals, automobile manufacturing and energy sectors are among the highest growth in the UAE and KSA. As investment continues in new infrastructure across these industries, it’s estimated that total defense spending in the Middle East and North Africa will hit $920 billion over the next decade, while an estimated $350 billion will be invested in energy generation capabilities. The additional investment means great things for the economy, but it will put increased pressure on water supply and sustainability in the long-term.
While the water conversation is still in its infancy throughout the Middle East, local and international companies are exploring what they can do to better manage the resources. Heavily reliant on desalinated water, accounting for nearly 20% of the energy consumption in KSA and UAE, the Middle East will require more desalination plants and further focus on investment, research and innovation in order to meet demands and find sustainable long-term solutions.
KSA invested over $12.5 billion in water projects in 2014 alone, and desalination plants are expected to double by 2025. The country’s agriculture accounts for 90% of all water consumption. To address this, the KSA government implemented a policy to scale back production in 2008, while the Environment Agency in Abu Dhabi began traveling to agriculture events to encourage farmers to use water more efficiently by installing new irrigations systems. However, a large percentage of water used for irrigation is often lost because of the inherent inefficiencies of the water network. As land equipped for irrigation is expected to expand by nearly 32 million hectares globally by 2050, it’s clear that significant investment is required to improve water management in order to ensure efficient irrigation in both the short and long-term.
There are many current Dow Water & Process Solutions projects that are already helping UAE & KSA businesses counter water related issues. In Dubai, The Park Hyatt uses Dow reverse osmosis and ultrafiltration technologies to filter wastewater, which is then used to operate the resort’s HVAC cooling towers. In one year, the project saved 37 million gallons of water, enough to fill 62 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
Regional conferences, investments, and eco-friendly plants have been introduced to the Middle East with the aim of furthering the conversation and attempting to secure the future of water across the region. KSA is moving towards water reform across all sectors with a strong emphasis on technological innovation. While the UAE is implementing governmental agencies to prepare plans and track statistics more effectively, in fact, in 2014, the Abu Dhabi Executive Council implemented a water strategy that provided a five year roadmap for the efficient management and conservation of water resources in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
Given today’s Middle East water environment, businesses must step up to face the challenge or risk losing their license to operate in the region. Companies standing at the front line of sustainability and innovation will improve reputation and have a direct and positive impact on the environment, and their own bottom line.