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A Water Stewardship Tool for Great Lakes Industries – Phase III of CGLI’s Water Stewardship project nears completion

A Water Stewardship Tool for Great Lakes Industries – Phase III of CGLI’s Water Stewardship project nears completion.
The Council of Great Lakes Industries will articulate specific outcomes of its industrial water stewardship project at the final Expert Panel meeting of Phase III of project (January 14, 2015 in Ann Arbor). Sponsored by the Great Lakes Protection Fund, this work has contributed significantly to industrial water stewardship pursuits in the Great Lakes region. CGLI is grateful for the support and engagement of the many people in the Great Lakes community that have informed by or contributed to this work since the project began in 2010.

CGLI reports that the three phases of the project so far have delivered the following results:

  • The project has helped to define the critical role water plays in the quality of life and economic development in the Great Lakes region. The role of water in this region may seem obvious, but CGLI brought stakeholders together and prompted them to acknowledge the importance of protecting the resource and recognizing the many benefits that come from its sustainable use.
  • The project put wheels in motion to find mechanisms, i.e. tools, for achieving the objectives of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence River Water Resources Compact and Agreement. Prior to this project, a multitude of water foot-printing frameworks and tools were “out there,” but users had limited understanding of their usefulness or applicability to Great Lakes water resource management. This project has helped users make sense of the tools and understand their importance even in a region where water scarcity and absence of governance may not be priority issues.
  • Although Great Lakes industrial facilities have worked for years to improve water use efficiency, this project has pushed industry to look “beyond the fence line” to identify and implement measures to protect and enhance water resources. Companies involved in the project now see water management activities in stewardship terms and in a watershed or sub-watershed context, not just in terms of facility operations.
  • The project is helping to implement corporate objectives for enhanced water stewardship at the local facility level. Rather than focus on the “why or why not” to be engaged in water stewardship activities, industry is now looking for the “how” to do it.
  • The project has influenced the water stewardship frameworks and tools under development across the globe (including especially but without limitation the Alliance for Water Stewardship’s International Water Stewardship Standard, or AWS IWSS). Tools under development are now more compatible with industry needs while still maintaining the rigor needed to guide and confirm good water stewardship practices.
  • State and provincial water resource managers who formerly questioned the role that industrial water stewardship assessment tools could play in the region now see value in the use of these frameworks/tools for developing and gauging water stewardship performance.

In coming months, CGLI plans to work with stakeholders and water stewardship experts to build capacity for industrial water stewardship in the region. This effort, which began with industry workshops in November and December and will continue with the Expert Panel meeting next week and beyond, will help to crystallize the drivers of industrial water stewardship in the region, create a “road map” for applying the AWS IWSS within Great Lakes industry, and attract additional participants to water stewardship efforts.

For more information about CGLI’s water stewardship project or other CGLI initiatives, please contact Kathryn Buckner, President (kabuckner@cgli.org) or Dale Phenicie, Project Director (dkphenicie@cgli.org). Also connect on LinkedIn for updates.

Assistance: Kelly Masters Kelly@GracefulCommunications.com; 248.761.1762