Skip to content

The importance of water efficiency in enhancing economic development strategies

Establishing water efficiency measures with commercial, industrial, and institutional (CII) sector partners has a lasting effect if positioned from a standpoint of cost savings, utility footprint reduction, and overall economic development benefits.

For economic development offices and governmental stakeholders who advocate public-private partnerships, CII sector water efficiency is very important in maximizing resources (especially for companies in drought-stricken regions of the U.S. and Canada), reducing operational costs (e.g., process water, wastewater treatment, non-compliance, and regulatory sanctions), and improving corporate citizenship within a municipality, region, or as part of a broad industry landscape. Not only do CII companies benefit from improving their environmental measures by addressing freshwater uptake and downstream impact of their wastewater discharge volumes, but effective water efficiency measures also have an indirectly positive impact on social engagement with their stakeholders and their industry reputation.

For many years, economic development leaders have focused on the primary goals of economic development support — improving the local economy, encouraging sectoral industry investment, attracting business growth, and creating new jobs — and in doing so, increasing local taxation.

Progressive economic development leaders work with governmental and/or industry proponents who advocate water efficiency within the CII sector, leading to network development capacity in expertise and support that typically is the focus of technology vendors or engineering firms. By providing access to these types of support systems, economic development offices in North America have an opportunity to solve CII process water and wastewater challenges by leveraging existing conservation programs in many forward-thinking municipalities.

Companies within the CII space could then access supportive efficiency incentivization, maximize utility savings, and improve and enhance reporting key performance indicators linked to corporate sustainability, such as environmental, social, and governance (ESG), UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), and Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFDs). These metrics are becoming important to investor relations for publicly traded companies and can influence where large national and multinational firms elect to set up manufacturing and headquarter operations in progressive cities in North America. Strategically linking to progressive governmental conservation measures that have long been in place but have not been effectively deployed in this fashion is the basis of the examples to be shared.