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Industries and the use of water
Source : The Hindu Property Plus Published On : 2008-01-05 City : Chennai

Industries are looking at reducing demand to the optimum by bringing in innovative saving and harvesting practices.


ECOLOGICAL STEWARDSHIP:  Sustainable management of water by industries is not only crucial to the industry itself but to the neighbourhood where the industry is located. A view of the Grundfos Pumps facility at Chennai which has been awarded ‘gold rating’ by the U.S. Green Building Council.


As the Indian economy grows at a rapid 9 percent, the use of water by industries will also grow at percent. While agricultural use of water will continue to remain the largest consumer, it is expected that the demand from industries will show a rapid increase. Industries demand water at a point and also discharge water at a point and therefore sustainable management of water by industries is not only crucial to the industry itself but to the neighborhood where the industry is located.


The confederation of Indian Industries – CII – recently organized its National Award for Excellence in Water Management 2007 competition in the sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre in Hyderabad. A range of industries participated in the competition organized in two categories – ‘Within the fence’ and ‘Beyond the fence’. The way many industries highlighted their projects was an indication on how serious they consider the management of water resources. That it is identified as one of the key resources, apart from energy to be looked at as a critical input for sustaining growth, doesn’t come as a surprise.


Source to sink:


                   In ‘Within the fence,’ industries were looking at conducting water audits and water flow chart to understand from source to sink where water was being used in their business and how consumption could be measured effectively managed for efficiency. By using an indicator called ‘specific water consumption’ which measures production against unit consumption of water, industries were able to benchmark themselves against national and global standards of water efficiency. Many of the industries where ahead of global benchmarks in this respect and this was a heartening sign. The convener of the event, L.S. Ganapathi has been constantly challenging the competitors to better themselves over there previous year effort literally to benchmark against themselves, once global benchmark are reached and this seemed to be the spirit of the efforts.


          Industries are increasingly being confronted by source sustainability issues. The depletion or reduction of current source or indeed completely drying up is a constant challenge they face. Multiple sourcing of water is the norm rather than the exception. Industries all over India therefore are looking at reducing demand to the optimum by innovative practices, harvesting rainwater either as storage or as recharging the aquifer, recycling and reusing waste water and ‘closing the loop’ on water and constantly managing risk of water availability. Zero discharge of waste water is a goal reached by many of the units.


          Water managers are being appointed to look at developing expertise in house in this sector. Production processes are being revisited to see where water savings can be achieved. Targets in water reduction are being voluntarily set so that efforts in this direction are maintained steadily. Awareness is being created at all levels of the unit to bring everybody into the solutions mode and cross functional teams operate outside narrow departmental boxes. Certifications such as ISO 9001, 14001 and 18001-OSHAS

are being sought since these help in resource use efficiency in a systematic manner. Method such as Kaizen and TQM help teams reach water efficiency goals. Annual reports now declare water consumption details and efficiencies in a transparent manner and being ‘waste positive’ as a company is a badge of honour.


Community needs:


          Beyond the fence: Industries are also engaging with communities to help solve their water problem. It is increasingly realized that companies do not sit in isolation in geographical areas where water is a scarce resource. Community initiatives have stepped outside routine CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) activities and now seek to embed themselves with understanding community needs and constraints vis-à-vis water and how sustainable solutions can be attempted.

          From watershed activities, building of check dams, repairing of broken down pumps, supply of drip irrigation systems to teaching communities how to manage water resources better is being attempted. As reported by on industry ‘the most important aspect of this program is people’s participation. The management and ownership of structures rests with villages, only this will bring responsibility and sustainability’.

          While around 75 industries participated in the event organised by the CII, it is cleared that the challenge is to engage many more all over the country to take ecological stewardship both within and outside the fence for a sustainable water future for our nation. In this lies water wisdom.



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