Save Water with Technology

Innovation and New Technology, Businesses can lead the way on Water Conservation

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With their traditional tools of efficiency, innovation and new technology, businesses can lead the way on water conservation, advocates say.

Several big employers say they have done just that:

Twenty years ago, Intel Corp., the world’s largest semiconductor manufacturer, treated 2 gallons of regular potable water to make a gallon of ultrapure water it needs to clean its chips. Now it uses 1.1 gallon of potable water to produce a gallon of pure water, the company says.

Miller Coors, the world’s largest beer manufacturer, says it has cut its water use from 4.1 gallons for every gallon of beer it brewed five years ago to 3.29 gallons today. It hopes to have the ratio down to 3-to-1 by 2020.

Xanterra Parks and Resorts Inc., the U.S.’ largest park concessions management company, says it’s cut water use 15 percent since 2002 despite significant growth in its holdings, including lodges and other concessions at the Grand Canyon and seven other national parks.

Executives of the companies shared their conservation success stories at a Phoenix conference last week. The event was sponsored by a business-oriented conservation group seeking to keep the drought-pinched, over-allocated Colorado River — which provides drinking water to seven states — from running dry.

Protect the Flows had these and other business officials at the two-day session because its mission is to work with the business community on water, said  Craig Mackey , the Denver group’s co-director.

“Our view is that the business community can lead on best practices,” Mackey said in an interview. “American innovation is driven by the business community. It can certainly lead on water efficiency and conservation and can lead also on education and communication and messaging on water.”

In an era of uncertainty sparked by a record drought and continued overuse of river water, the business community can also be a key player in public policy decisions regarding water, Mackey said.

“For 100 years in the water world, water has been managed by a small, dedicated group of water managers and water utilities,” Mackey said. “In an era of water uncertainty, we need everybody at the table.”

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