Quantifying benefits of water restoration projects case study

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Courtesy of LimnoTech Inc.

The Coca-Cola Company is committed to balancing the water used in its finished products by participating in locally relevant projects that support communities and nature. LimnoTech, in collaboration with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), is supporting the Company’s “Replenish” commitment through a multi-phase project. The project is focused on the quantification of benefits from watershed restoration activities as a means of sustaining a clean and adequate water supply for all beneficial uses.

Problem
Several global corporations are actively advancing water footprint accounting and water stewardship standards to stimulate broad adoption of sustainable water management practices. This groundbreaking work addresses the need for greater understanding of the water benefits generated by watershed restoration practices.

Approach
The LimnoTech/TNC team investigated the nature of potential watershed restoration activities, and a list of potential restoration activities was developed, based on a review of Coca-Cola’s Community Water Partnership (CWP) projects and an extensive literature review. The team also conducted a thorough review and analysis of available methods for quantifying the changes in water quantity and quality associated with restoration activities, and identified calculation methods for each action. An expert system software tool that could be used by Coca-Cola and others considering actions to evaluate and compare potential projects was also conceptualized.

The methodologies are being applied to quantify the watershed restoration benefits gained through Coca-Cola’s CWP projects around the world. The team is supporting the Company in a series of international workshops to help its business units and bottlers understand the quantification methods and to plan future projects.

Result
Nine categories of watershed restoration actions were identified: agricultural land practice changes; stormwater management, land use/land cover alterations; hydraulic/hydrologic waterbody alterations; conservation in water systems including leak repair; wastewater treatment; biologic management; water reuse; and rainwater harvesting and aquifer recharge. The current estimate is that by the end of 2009 the Company was replenishing approximately 22% of the water used in its finished beverages. The pollution reduction benefits of these activities were also estimated.

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