Going beyond net-zero, the water positive sustainability target aims to return more water to freshwater sources than is withdrawn
As environmental and climate concerns mount around the world, governments and companies have been making more and more net-zero pledges. While the focus has largely remained on greenhouse gas emissions, a flurry of new sustainability pledges have focused on water. As its name suggests, a new sustainability target — water positive — ups the ante from net-zero to a return of more water into freshwater resources than is withdrawn.
While water positive has no formal definition yet, it’s not only about saving water. It may also include various strategies, such as overcompensating for water use in areas where water shortage is a problem. One example comes from tech giant Google, which says it will “target water scarce regions in order to ensure we are positively impacting the areas that need it most.”
Other moves toward water positivity include replacing concrete surfaces with pervious pavement that allows water to replenish aquifers in areas where stormwater might normally wash into storm drains and sewers.
The water-positive movement is gaining momentum among major corporations in the United States and abroad. For instance, Google and Facebook have pledged to go water positive by 2030, including at Facebook’s water-guzzling data centers. Facebook already is close to achieving the goal, returning 2.2 million of the 2.3 million m3 it withdrew in the last year. Goals will be achieved through efficiency upgrades, tree-planting initiatives in California, and contributing to aquifer recharge in Oregon.
Microsoft and PepsiCo have made water positive pledges, along with BP PLC, which announced its goal of being water positive by 2035. Proctor & Gamble, Gap, and 3M have all made their own pledges.
In water stressed India, many states are providing cost-saving incentives to industry and even mandating that large industrial operations over a certain size treat and use municipal wastewater.
Making the Most of Every Drop
One of the best ways to go water positive is through desalination and reusing treated wastewater. Tapping these nontraditional sources of water can help a company reach its sustainability goals, and Fluence is standing ready to help. Some examples of our water reuse solutions include:
- A fish-processing plant in Ecuador, unable to obtain enough water locally, was buying water from tankers at a high cost. A mixed-technology Fluence reuse solution allowed the plant to zero its water footprint and save $140,000/year in fuel costs.
- A modular Fluence system recycles cooling water blowdown at a cutting-edge solar facility in Israel. The power plant has been able to meet its water reuse targets, reducing freshwater consumption by about 50% and effluent discharge by 80%.
- One of the largest bottling companies in Latin America uses a Fluence membrane bioreactor system to treat its wastewater and reuse it on-site as process water.
Modular Treatment for Going Water Positive
With newer, modular treatment plants, wastewater can be reused in a much wider market than ever, even at small- to medium-scale operations. Fluence has modular treatment lines for desalination, and wastewater treatment and reuse.
- Aspiral™ wastewater treatment units compactly and efficiently treat wastewater for reuse using MABR technology. The high nutrient removal produces water suitable for reuse and other nonpotable applications.
- NIROBOX™ reverse-osmosis water purification and desalination units efficiently purify a wide range of source waters into water suitable for industrial processes.
The lines are packaged in conventional shipping containers allowing for unprecedented speed of deployment and minimal construction needs, and can be used in tandem for scalable capacity. With our Water Management Services, which offer BOO and BOOT financing structures, Fluence can handle all operations while clients pay only for water — with no upfront investment.
At Fluence, we have 30 years of experience helping a variety of industries hit water targets. Contact us — our experts are waiting to hear about your operation.