Be Part of the Solution: Invest in Companies Supporting Clean Water
In response to UN Sustainable Development Goal 6, Clean Water, many companies have stepped up to address some of our most pressing water challenges.
Many Americans don’t think about our water, where it comes from, and how it got to our taps. Most of us can reasonably assume our water is clean and safe to use, while also being affordable. But in reality, contaminated water, water shortages, and expensive water bills are part of everyday life for millions of households, and this water crisis has the potential to spread nationwide.
When it comes to the future of clean water in America, the biggest challenges come down to access and affordability. Across the country, our water pipes are old: Many have been in use since right after World War II, with few repairs or replacements. Why were they neglected for so long? As our water systems were getting older and weaker, municipal budgets were cut back at the same time, so the out-of-date infrastructure stayed put and upgrades got postponed.
Additionally, cost-saving measures for clean water can have unintended consequences. Back in 2014, the city leadership of Flint, Michigan, started using the Flint River as the source of its drinking water, thinking it would save money compared to Detroit’s drinking water systems, which it had previously used. Instead, the Flint River’s contaminated water, alongside insufficient treatment and water safety testing, kicked off a public health and environmental justice crisis. The combined effects included high lead levels and hazardous amounts of industrial chemicals in the water, and city-wide outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease. Nearly five years later, many residents are still wary, concerned whether their water is safe to drink.
Alongside our crumbling infrastructure, climate change also poses new challenges to our water systems, with extreme conditions requiring new methods for delivering clean, safe water to drought-stricken areas and flooded regions alike.
So, when you take the impact of our aging water systems, climate challenges, and limited government funding together, the solutions become expensive. In our current landscape, there’s a lot to fix, but there are minimal resources or political will to do it. This means the cost of necessary but pricey upgrades and repairs will be passed on to consumers, in the form of really high water bills for the average household.
Cities like Austin, Chicago, and San Francisco are already feeling the pain, with household water bills rising more than 50% over the past five years. In fact, experts estimate that average water bills will continue to go up, and by 2020, more than a third of Americans could potentially still not have access to clean and/or affordable drinking water.
Before you wring your hands in despair, take heart: There is promising news on the horizon. In response to UN Sustainable Development Goal 6, Clean Water, many companies have stepped up to address some of our most pressing water challenges. So, if clean water is important to you, consider investing in companies working to ensure availability, affordability, and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. Your investments, alongside those from other conscious investors, can work together to make a difference when it comes to clean water.
How Can My Investment Dollars Support Clean Water?
Deciding to make conscious investments means that you’re actively choosing to invest your money toward the causes you care about. With clean water, for example, you can invest in companies with policies that keep water safe and clean, reduce their own water usage, or have water recycling programs. These same companies may also be working on products and solutions to support or upgrade our water systems to increase access and affordability, or are partnering on infrastructure initiatives that ensure sustainable clean water resources in the face of climate change.
Investing in a company committed to clean water tells that company’s leadership that we support their efforts to preserve and protect clean water for all, now and in the future. Additionally, by avoiding companies that aren’t safeguarding our water resources, you’re making sure your money isn’t contributing to the problem. When many of us invest this way, CEOs and executive boards get the message loud and clear: Clean water policies are good business, they should continue their clean water initiatives, and do even more to preserve sustainable water resources in the years to come. If they stay committed to their clean water policies, they’ll continue to appeal to conscious investors like us, and we’ll continue to invest with companies like them.
Which Companies are Committed to Clean Water?
Check out just a few companies working to ensure clean water is preserved and accessible to everyone.
- American Water: Through its partnership with the international nonprofit Water for People, this water and wastewater utility company provided nearly $200,000 in 2018 to support safe, sustainable water and sanitation systems worldwide.
- Ecolab: This producer of water, hygiene, and energy technologies and services developed an international standard to encourage sustainable freshwater use. In partnership with the Alliance for Water Stewardship and the World Wildlife Fund, they implemented the standard at the company’s drought-impacted California manufacturing plants, and also trained other water users and businesses in the region to “identify ways to work together to further reduce … collective impacts.”
- PepsiCo: The beverage and packaged foods company has outlined eight water-focused goals to reach by 2025, including starting and supporting collaborative efforts to address water risk and mitigate water insecurity in communities by replenishing 100% of the water used by operations in water-stressed areas where Pepsico operates.
How Can I Get Started Investing in Clean Water?
If you’d like to learn more about how your investments can support clean water for all, check out the COIN Clean Water Impact Area, which covers companies committed to improving water use in operations, for example, or those that have a good record regarding water pollution incidents. Additionally, your investments will support companies that create products used in water filtration and wastewater treatment, or corporations that assist local communities in building affordable, sustainable clean water infrastructure.
If we all band together to invest in Clean Water, we can make a difference in preserving and improving access to this basic human right.
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