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Saturday, Jul 13, 2024
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Commentary: Business Must Lead Innovation to Conserve Water

July 25, Colorado River Day, was recently celebrated as the day the river was officially renamed from the “Grand” to the “Colorado,” honoring the waterway that serves as the backbone of the West’s economy and a critical drinking source for millions.

Regrettably, the health of the river and water availability in the entire Colorado River basin has been severely challenged during the past decade. Reservoir levels in the basin are perilously low due to the ongoing 14-year drought. Lake Mead is only 39 percent full, its lowest level in history, and with more than half of the water in San Diego County coming from the Colorado River, San Diego is particularly impacted.

Fortunately, businesses are playing a major role in water conservation, implementing measures that cut water waste and designing products that use less water. Businesses are beginning to do what they do best — develop technological solutions that create new economic opportunities for the region.

For example, San Diego County startup company Blue Watchdog has grown by using remote technologies, water budgets, and highly trained staff to help property owners save 30 to 60 percent on their water bills. The company has partnered with California American Water to roll out innovative water software available for mobile devices that helps water agencies meet their water conservation goals.

At Hunter Industries, a San Marcos-based manufacturer, we need water to test the irrigation products we produce, to clean and cool our machinery, and to accommodate our 1,500 employees on a daily basis. To consume less water from the Colorado River, Hunter uses an onsite well and a gray water system and has converted some of its landscaping to native habitat, which requires no irrigation. We have set a goal to reduce water use by 15 percent from a 2014 baseline. Beyond decreasing our own water consumption, Hunter supports the Sonoran Institute’s Colorado River Delta restoration project, as well as Protect the Flows, an association of businesses focused on protecting and enhancing the Colorado River.

While there are costs to conservation measures and adapting to changing conditions, the long-term survival of our businesses and our communities depends on the thoughtful and wise use of water. Hunter Industries asks Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and local and state officials to help us by implementing actionable conservation policies that ensure an ongoing adequate water supply. We encourage other companies to join us in accepting the challenges and the possibilities of a water-smart society.

Ann Hunter Welborn is chairwoman of the board at Hunter Industries, which is a member of Protect the Flows.

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