Category Archives: Water policies

Outage in India Could Be a Harbinger for the Rest of the World

India’s electric grid is particularly challenged in keeping up with its economy, but grids around the world are at risk from growing complexity and conflicts between water and power.” (Source: Technology Review)

Very good article on India’s power blackout in Technology Review and how this could also be the future for developed economies (think about the link between water and nuclear.

The conflict between water and power, seen in India’s blackout, is poised to become more acute as weather patterns change and fast-growing economies consume more water. A 2010 report from the World Resources Institute, a Washington-based environmental think tank, says economic and population growth are stressing freshwater suppliers in India, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. With the rapid expansion of thermal and hydroelectric plants and longer dry periods, many countries in Asia and elsewhere will face water-related risks in power generation, the report said. “

Will Drought Cause the Next Blackout?

"Our energy system depends on water. About half of the nation’s water withdrawals every day are just for cooling power plants. In addition, the oil and gas industries use tens of millions of gallons a day, injecting water into aging oil fields to improve production, and to free natural gas in shale formations through hydraulic fracturing.". (Source: NY Times)

Good story in NY Times on how water problems will become energy problems.

The Other Arab Spring

Environmental pressures, not just political and economic ones, stirred change in the Mideast.” (Source: NY Times)

Thomas Friedman makes the connection between environmental degradation in the Middle East and the Arab uprisings.

We and the Arabs need to figure out — and fast — more ways to partner to mitigate the environmental threats where we can and to build greater resiliency against those where we can’t. Twenty years from now, this could be all that we’re talking about. “

Ecosystem Economics: Navigating the Water-Food-Energy Nexus

When we talk about natural resource constraints on business — such as shortages in water or increases in the cost of energy or agricultural products — we tend to forget how deeply intertwined these commodities are.”  

Excellent article from the Harvard Business Review blog showing big business is learning rapidly. Unfortunately most policymakers are at least five years behind.

Very interesting facts in the article:

“… it takes 95 liters of water to produce one kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity; and each year, the US uses 520 billion kilowatt hours — or roughly 13 percent of all electricity consumed — to move, treat, and heat water. With agriculture accounting for roughly 70 percent of water use, you can imagine how complicated it can become to maintain a steady supply of all three to industry, citizens, and municipalities.”

Water Risk in Supply Chains Draws Investor Scrutiny

Jonas Kron is worried about water. The investment adviser at Trillium Asset Management, a $900 million fund manager that focuses on environmentally sustainable investment, fears the world’s dwindling supply of fresh water is hurting the companies…” 

Interesting Bloomberg story on dwindling freshwater supplies and the supply chain risks for industry and investors.
The European Commission’s Green Week 2012 will focus on “water” and include sessions on corporate challenges in this area. Green Week will take place from 22-25 May 2012.

Water Will Be the Critical Limiting Factor of 21st Century Production

"Morgan Stanley’s Global Investment Committee recently released a report in which it argues that the “perfect storm” of declining water supply and and rising demand are likely to make water the critical limiting resource of our time. The report, entitled “Peak Water: The Preeminent 21st Century Commodity Story,” paints a convincing picture of a world that is on the brink of a severe water crisis." (Source: TriplePundit)

Read the full  Morgan Stanley report.

Water’s Economics as Muddy as Ever

Interesting article in Harvard Business Review on the economic costs of water scarcity and efforts by big companies to measure their "water footprint" and draw the necessary lessons.


Due to rising population, coupled with increasing demands by the agriculture and energy industries (often referred to as the water-food-energy nexus), global demand for clean water will outstrip supply by an average of 40 percent by 2030. While this reality poses grave risks to thousands of communities, it is also the driver of a daunting, and often confusing, economic dilemma which businesses must prepare for.It’s time for companies operating in the many dry regions around the world to equip themselves with the tools and mindset they need to navigate this new normal.”

“The leading water-aware companies may be better attuned to slowly emerging water disasters and best equipped to help reduce the gap between supply and demand. They will avoid business disruptions and build more resilient enterprises. They will also, by recognizing the true value of water, help protect everyone’s access to clean water. “


Consumers are absent in water security debate

With global warming, droughts as well as floods have put water policy back on the political agenda. Nevertheless, the terms of the political debate are very much framed by the big water companies (Suez, Veolia and others) and therefore the proposed policies are to a great extent technical instead of political. Whoever is not convinced about this, should try reading the EU’s Water Framework Directive, the “toolbox” for EU water policy as presented by Commission Director Grant Lawrence during an interesting conference in Brussels organised on 7 June by Friends of Europe with the support of the European Water Partnership.

Most speakers at the conference agreed that the EU has a strategy with the necessary tools to deal with the climate change challenges to water, but Riccardo Petrella of the World Water Contract spoiled the consensus by hitting at the “water management approach” which is “based on the interests of the private companies“. Petrella wants water to be seen as a basic human right and not as a commodity. His question “where are the citizens” in these policies never got any real answer from the rest of the panel.

It is clear that the European water policy still lacks the instruments to make citizens aware how precious our water is. Where is the European water-savings action plan?

For other views on this subject, see BlueGold, the blog of the European Water Partnership.


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