Drought fears prompt warning of water price rises for manufacturers

Feb 27, 2012


The warning comes after Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman hosted a drought summit with water companies, farmers and wildlife groups last week.
The looming shortages make the introduction of a water trading scheme more likely, the company warns.
Under such a scheme, water use could be capped and manufacturers needing additional supplies would be forced to buy unused quotas from other firms.
With parts of the South East experiencing the lowest rainfall levels for decades this winter, Ms Spelman said public supplies are likely to be affected unless there is substantial precipitation by the end of April.
Sustainability specialist Ceram has warned that there will be significant price rises for Milton Keynes businesses this year. Global studies analysing the number of litres available per person predict that the South East will show ‘extreme stress’ – the same classification as parts of the Middle East, Africa and the Indian sub-continent.
Cera. sustainability principal Joe Flanagan (pictured) said: “Scarcity of water puts an upward pressure on prices and the need to invest billions in infrastructure like pipework and new reservoirs will undoubtedly drive up bills. Milton Keynes firms need to think about this now rather than when they see their costs going up.”
Mr Flanagan urged industry to analyse its water usage and to come up with ways of reducing it. Manufacturers such as Coca Cola and retailers including Marks & Spencer and John Lewis are now incorporating water usage as part of their sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility policies.
That has a positive effect on marketing and image as well as the environment.
Mr Flanagan said: “Water footprinting identifies immediate savings and it buffers the effect of inevitable future rises. Being able to tell the local community that you have reduced your water usage is especially helpful when your employees and people living near your factory are suffering hosepipe bans or supply interruptions.”
Mr Flanagan has acted as a resources consultant for firms all over the world and he has written a number of publications for organisations including the International Energy Agency, the EU and the Carbon Trust.
Ceram has published a new white paper called Calculating a Water Footprint – The Benefits for Your Business. The document examines the growing importance of water as a sustainability issue for businesses and it is available as a free download.
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