The United States Business Council for Sustainable Development (US BCSD) today launched a water synergy project aimed at addressing regional water challenges in the New Orleans to Baton Rouge Mississippi River Corridor.
A similar initiative is already underway at the Idea Village, whose Water Challenge Competition is designed to spur innovation and new products and services in water management. At New Orleans Entrepreneur Week in March, new startup Nanofex won the Water Challenge and received $50,000.
The US BCSD seeks to achieve tangible water conservation and quality improvements, and establish a long-term water collaboration plan in the region by harnessing collective industry capabilities and interests. In addition, it plans to develop a replicable work process that could be applied in other water-challenged regions.
Between 20 and 30 diverse companies and business organizations are expected to participate and bring their collective interests and capabilities to bear on the water challenges facing the region. Interest also will be solicited from local and regional governments and non-governmental organizations such as parks, wildlife organizations and water conservation groups as specific water management strategies are prioritized for action.
US BCSD’s project responds to an increased awareness of the importance of water management to business sustainability, the economy, and society. Specific challenges include fresh water quantity and quality, storm water management, and energy efficiency in wastewater treatment and distribution. Because challenges in this area are so complex, viable solutions for a watershed or region require crossing traditional boundaries and reconciling often-competing interests of business, municipal, rural, and ecosystem water needs.
In development since October 2010, the project will apply the US BCSD’s facilitated collaborative work process to provide a safe zone where public and private stakeholders can identify issues, find and prioritize alternative solutions, and craft implementation plans for their watershed/region. The project will use customized tools including the USBCSD By-Product Synergy database and WBCSD Global Water Tool to accelerate and document actions taken.
ConocoPhillips, Entergy and the Walmart Foundation provided $120,000 in funding to support the launch of the project.