The Colorado River Basin states (the Basin) face significant water challenges, including the overallocation of water, long-term drought, and climate change. The private sector can help address these challenges and advance water sustainability in the Basin in several ways, by reducing its own water footprint or that of its suppliers, using its collective voice to influence and inform public policy, and by investing in innovative and collaborative solutions. While corporate water stewardship is not a panacea for all water challenges in the Basin, companies can make a meaningful contribution to improving water sustainability in the Basin.
The purpose of this report, commissioned by the Walton Family Foundation (WFF), is to examine a set of key corporate water stewardship actions and activities, with associated drivers and barriers, to identify how the private sector could address some of the water challenges in the Basin. It also provides recommendations to promote uptake of leading corporate water stewardship practices in the Basin. The report is divided into three sections. Section 1 describes corporate water stewardship in the Basin. Section 2 describes several corporate water stewardship strategies and identifies the drivers, barriers, and relevance to the Basin for each strategy. Section 3 provides recommendations for scaling corporate water stewardship through strategic investments.
Corporate water stewardship in the Colorado River Basin is still relatively nascent. Compounding this challenge is the general lack of a facilitated enabling environment for water users, including companies, who do not typically work together to collaborate on shared water challenges. Two key strategies for advancing the maturity and reach of corporate water stewardship in the Basin are (1) to expand water stewardship education, decision-making data, and starter tools about the value of water stewardship and (2) to facilitate local collaboration on water stewardship.