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What is "Water Positive"? Why Major Corporations Pledge to It

Water Positive is when an industry or corporation makes more water available than it uses

Dec 17, 2022 / 2 Min
Photo: Manki Kin on Unsplash

The impact of the water crisis is no longer only affecting individuals in disadvantaged communities and the imminent threat to the business economy is becoming increasingly real. 


The reality of the global water problem is that 40% of the global population is affected by water scarcity; only 4% of our water is reused; 80% of wastewater is discharged untreated into the environment; and more than 90% of disasters are water-related. 


Water Positive is a term used to describe an industry or corporation that makes more water available than it uses.  Google, Facebook, Microsoft, PepsiCo, Gap, Dupont, Heineken, and British Petroleum, are among the internationally recognized companies leading the way worldwide to return more water to nature than they consume, according to IDA.


A straightforward way business can return pure water to nature is to purify non-potable water through seawater desalination and municipal or industrial wastewater purification, says IDA. These non-conventional but well-vetted sources can generate a reliable and high-quality water supply and are now recognized by the United Nations to offset water scarcity.


Microsoft, Google and Facebook have or are building wastewater treatment plants at some of their offices to recycle water for flushing toilets and watering plants. Most of the tech companies’ water use, however, goes to cooling equipment in their data centers, some of which are located in drought-prone regions of the American west and south-west, according to The Guardian.


According to the same source, Google started using reclaimed wastewater nearly a decade ago at its data center in Douglas county, Georgia. Microsoft is now doing the same in Washington state, Amsterdam and Dublin. It is also testing waterless cooling systems, such as dunking computer servers into fluid that boils off the heat they generate, or sinking data centers into the ocean, to release heat into the seawater.


As demonstrated with carbon credit trading, says IDA, we can now grow the economy, create jobs, and develop exports while simultaneously recharging our natural water sources.


It is no longer enough to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle; to achieve a Water Positive balance, we need to also “Recharge” - recover and return more water than we use in our production processes. 


Thanks to technological advances in water purification solutions and alternative energies, non-conventional water sources are now positioned as the best option to supply natural water resources, delivering high purity water.


Sources: IDA, The Guardian.