The drought currently taking place in California and across much of the southwest has been in the news quite a bit lately.
According to a recent report issued by VOX Global and the Pacific Institute, “Bridging the Gap: Are U.S. Companies Prepared for Looming Water Risks?,” a significant percentage of companies currently see water as a serious risk that they expect to worsen over the next five years. Perhaps even more surprising to many who have read the report is that the companies who took the survey represented a wide range of industry sectors —not just the sectors one might guess are impacted by water, like food, beverage and agriculture.
As a result of this information, AT&T collaborated with Environmental Defense Fund to explore water use in cooling towers. Through its pilots, AT&T found that free air-cooling and technical solutions could provide water savings of 14-40 percent. Early results also showed savings in water, sewer, chemical and energy costs. For example, a cooling tower filtration system that was installed at one AT&T facility cost less than $100,000 but has returned more than $60,000 a year in water and sewer savings alone.
With the lessons from its pilots, AT&T developed a free toolkit that other companies can use to address their own water use: www.edf.org/attwater. If U.S. companies adopted this toolkit, they could collectively save 28 billion gallons of water annually.
Schulz is AT&T assistant vice president of Sustainability of Operations.