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Optimizing Industry Water Use – Phase II, Effective Application of Water Footprinting Methodologies to Industrial Operations in the Great Lakes Basin

Year Awarded: 2010
Awarded: $256,000
Team Leader:  Council of Great Lakes Industries
Tel: 734-663-1944
Email: ghk@cgli.org

This project identified how various water footprinting/stewardship tools could best help industrial water users support production, optimize costs, and minimize ecosystem impacts. The results of this work lay the foundation for developing water stewardship tools useful in a water-rich region.

The team closely examined nineteen water stewardship tools currently being used in other parts of the world, and selected five tools for application in pilot studies. The selected tools were: Water Footprint Network methodology; Global Water Tool, Carbon Disclosure Project Water Disclosure Project; Global Reporting Initiative; and the European Water Stewardship (draft) Standard.

The team applied the tools to four Great Lakes basin high withdrawal volume, self-supply, industrial facilities to test how well these tools characterized use; treated recycling, reuse, and conservation; and compared with Great Lakes Compact/Agreement decision making standards. These facilities represented a cross-section of industries; an electric power plant; cement plant; pulp and paper mill; and oil refinery.

Prior to this effort, the studies had been done in water scarce regions in other parts of the world and focused on the quantity of water withdrawn – little was known about how well these tools functioned in a water rich region such as the Great Lakes. Furthermore, this project was the first-of-its-kind with respect to the pilot application of multiple water stewardship tools at the same sites. The work generated a lot of interest from a large and diverse audience that included Great Lakes stakeholders, and tool users and tool developers from other parts of the world.

The team was awarded a grant to build off of this work and create a Great Lakes water stewardship tool that would be compatible with modern industrial facilities, adapted to large water bodies, and would address the special concerns of water rich regions.

Links to the team’s publications are below.