Business taskforce calls on UK industry to take urgent action on water

Posted: Tuesday 20th January 2015

Business leaders are calling on their peers to tackle water issues in the UK. With the backing of the Government, Business in the Community (BITC) has brought together water companies, other businesses, and key stakeholders to work collaboratively on the challenges, and encourage other businesses to take action on water to help build a fairer society and more sustainable future.

At the recent BITC Water Taskforce, chaired by United Utilities CEO, Steve Mogford, called on all UK businesses – large and small, from every sector, be they at the beginning of their journey or further along – to consider their relationship with water and take action to improve their resilience to the risk of periods of too much and too little water.

To mark the start of a three year plan of action, the group has launched a report ‘Securing the Resources for Future Prosperity’, which highlights the water challenges faced in the UK, reasons why businesses should take action and what they need to do. The report uncovers many stories of how businesses are already rising to the challenge.

Gudrun Cartwright, Head of Innovation and Partnerships, Business in the Community said: “Water management should be part of all sustainable business strategies. Rising sea levels and changes in rainfall patterns are just the beginning of an increase in flooding and drought in the UK. There is a clear and urgent need for UK businesses to act now and respond to water challenges.

We are delighted that BITC members are helping to drive change through the Water Taskforce and look forward to seeing how we can deliver real impact over the next three years.”

Northumbrian Water Group’s Water Director, John Devall, who sits on the taskforce, said: “This taskforce has vital work to do and provides the partners with a powerful platform to work with businesses, big and small, to do their bit to help protect what is a very precious resource, reduce energy use and manage the impact that they may have on flooding.

“Sustainability is at the core of all we do as a business, including our water catchment processes, water and wastewater treatment and renewable energy innovation. Education is also at the heart of what we do, for example, our work with schools to educate future generations on the water cycle and the important part that water plays in our everyday lives. The taskforce group has a wealth of knowledge and experience to share with businesses.”

Steve Mogford, CEO of United Utilities said: “Businesses, within and outside the water industry, increasingly recognise the importance of using water more efficiently and becoming more resilient to water shortages and flooding. They also recognise the opportunities and business value brought by action. Taking action is essential for our long-term prosperity and the longer businesses wait, the greater the costs of catching up.”

Water Minister Dan Rogerson said: “Across the country, many individual businesses are doing great things to help protect water quality and the environment. We believe businesses working together and sharing best practice is crucial to encourage others to do the same. That is why we are providing the Water Stewardship in Food Supply Chains Project within the Water Taskforce with £150,000 of government funding, to help boost collaboration and share knowledge across industry.”

“It is great news that we are supporting the Business in the Community Water Taskforce. In its first year, this group has already achieved a lot and I am certain that we can achieve even more in the next year thanks to our funding.”

BITC’s Water Taskforce had identified six steps to help organisations take action on water.

1. Understand their relationship with water
2. Create a plan for action
3. Manage direct use of water
4. Manage indirect use of water
5. Build resilience to flooding and water shortages
6. Collaborate on sustainable water quality management

If you're interested in learning more about the work of the Taskforce visit

Members of the Water Taskforce are: Anglian Water, the Carbon Trust, Costain, United Utilities, Dairy Crest, Defra, Dŵr Cymru, EDF Energy, the Environment Agency, Yorkshire Water, Marshalls, the Met Office, MWH, Nestlé, Northumbrian Water, Sainsbury’s and Thames Water.

The Taskforce are committed to working collaboratively on practical projects that contribute to the delivery of resilience, stewardship and innovation around water.

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