When the CSI’s Agenda for Action was written in 2002, water was not regarded as a major sustainability issue. Today the concept of water stress is better understood.
Water conservation, water foot-printing and water management are having a growing importance on many businesses’ sustainability agendas. Water ranks alongside carbon as a finite global resource that requires careful management. Many regions of the world are reaching a point of “water stress”, where water resources can no longer support the demands of human populations.
The cement industry’s overall water footprint is relatively small compared to other sectors. Cement production requires water for cooling heavy equipment and exhaust gases, in emission control systems such as wet scrubbers, as well as for preparing slurry in wet process kilns. The wet process is now being progressively being phased out and replaced by modern, more efficient dry processes, thus bringing significantly reducing water usage.
However, the CSI acknowledges the need to take action to reduce the industry’s water footprint – especially at a local level, where individual facilities and activities have a direct impact.
A dedicated task force within CSI was setup to define indicators to measure companies’ performance in water management, develop a protocol for water reporting and guidance for water measurement.
In addition, companies are assessing tools to evaluate water risk at operation sites so they can devise appropriate plan in addressing the issue. Primarily, companies have to understand and manage the quantities of water withdrawn, as well as the quality and quantity of water released, with particular attention in water-stressed areas.