Business and industry rely on clean, safe, and reliable water as much as we rely on it to drink. A new report by the Value of Water Campaign estimates the average US business loses $230 in sales per employee for every day of water service disruption. Nationally, a one-day disruption in water service amounts to $43.5 billion in lost sales and $22.5 billion in GDP putting 250,000 jobs at risk. There is also a direct relationship between water quality and treatment costs. Business and industry requires high quality water as raw inputs in manufacturing, agriculture, pharmaceuticals to name a few. If water quality doesn’t meet industry standards, businesses have to invest more capital into treating water on-site (or relocate to areas with better water quality) thus increasing the cost to do business and risking additional jobs.
Source water protection is a worthy (and smart) investment. Protecting water quality at the source on public lands, in forests, and in rural areas of the country means less infrastructure and treatment is required to deliver high quality water to businesses, industry, and residents. New York City saves an estimated $300 million a year on water treatment and maintenance costs through their source water protection program. The Nature Conservancy estimates the cost of source water protection activities is $2 per person per year. Investing in forest conservation, sustainable agriculture, protecting public lands, and maintaining and improving riparian buffers improves water quality and benefits everyone. Furthermore, investments in source protection enhances our resiliency in an unpredictable climate where water scarcity concerns are growing around the globe.
Investing in source water protection programs is an investment in local economies while reducing the financial burden on businesses, industry, and residents. That’s a worthy investment to make.