Coca Cola announced on Sunday that, in 2015, the company returned more water to nature and communities than it used.
“We have a simple belief inside Coca Cola that if we can’t help create sustainable communities where we operate, we won’t have a sustainable business,” said Muhtar Kent, Coca Cola’s chairman and CEO.
The company set this goal in 2007 and the deadline to achieve it in 2020. It partnered with the World Wildlife Fund, its global network of bottlers and governments to complete 248 community water projects in 71 countries. Since 2004, the company has reduced its water use by 27 percent.
Coca Cola’s report and data were validated by Deloitte, the global accounting firm, The Nature Conservancy and LimnoTech, an environmental engineering company — so it’s official. It’s also important, as it raises expectations of other Fortune 500 companies and their sustainability goals.
Beverage processing is a water intensive industry. Here in California, just four industries — beverage processing, oil refining, high-tech manufacturing and fruit and vegetable processing — account for nearly half of all industrial water use. That said, beverage companies are exploring and innovating their way to sustainable water use. In 2006, global companies like Coca Cola and Pepsi, MillerCoors and Heineken created the Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable to share research and move the industry towards sustainable practices. Companies here in California are exploring and innovating, as well, and we’ll learn more about them in coming blog posts.
Helix Water District accepted a District Transparency Certificate of Excellence from the San Diego Chapter of the California Special Districts Association at a regional awards dinner last night in Kearny Mesa. Helix was recognized for its “outstanding efforts” to promote transparency and good governance.
Helix board president DeAna Verbeke, Vice President Chuck Muse, and Director Joel Scalzitti accepted the certificate from the CSDA’s Special District Leadership Foundation, an independent, non-profit organization formed to promote good governance and best practices among California’s special districts through certification, accreditation and other recognition programs.
“This award is a testament to Helix Water District’s commitment to open government,” said Chis Palmer, Public Affairs Field Coordinator for CSDA. “The entire district staff is to be commended for their contributions that empower the public with information and facilitate engagement and oversight.”
To be eligible for the award, a special district must demonstrate completion of eight essential governance transparency requirements, including conducting ethics training for all board members, properly conducting open and public meetings and filing financial transactions and compensation reports to the state controller in a timely manner.
Helix also fulfilled fifteen website requirements, including providing readily available information to the public, such as board agendas, past minutes, current district budget and the most recent financial audit.
The district also must demonstrate outreach that engages the public in its governance, through a regular district newsletter and completion of a salary comparison for district staff positions.
Special districts are independent public agencies that deliver core local services to communities, such as water, fire protection, parks and recreation, healthcare, sanitation, mosquito abatement, ports, libraries, public cemeteries and more. Districts are established by voters and their funding is approved by voters to meet specific needs through focused service. They can be specially molded to serve large regions or small neighborhoods.
Helix is a special district formed to provide water for the cities of La Mesa, El Cajon and Lemon Grove, the community of Spring Valley and areas within Santee, Lakeside and San Diego County. Helix serves 271,000 people through more than 56,000 metered accounts.
The San Diego County Water Authority, which allocates water from the Colorado River to the 24 retail water agencies serving the San Diego region, has entered into a 50-year contract to purchase hydroelectricity directly from Hoover Dam on the Colorado River. However, the Water Authority needs SDG&E’s transmission lines to deliver the power, just as it needs Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s aqueduct to deliver Colorado River water. Talks between SDG&E and the Water Authority are apparently off to a rocky start, and there’s a lot at stake, including agiant battery.
It seems like nine out of ten news stories about California’s water are bad news — drought, climate change and outdated water policies. There is, however, a lot of good news out there about innovation in agriculture, industry and technology that leads one to a different conclusion — that we are on the path to a sustainable future, that we can get there. We will share these stories with you in the weeks and months ahead.
Today’s story is from Stanford University, which announced in June that it had analyzed fracking data from the oil industry to discover three times more groundwater under California’s Central Valley than prior studies indicated. Now, researchers at Stanford have developed a water treatment device that is the size of a Chiclet (remember those?) and powered by the sun. The device could alleviate waterborne illness in the developing world.
You may have heard about Harvard’s study already. Over the last three days, stories about it have run on CBS News and CNN, and on numerous news websites including Time, the Washington Post and Science Daily.
Harvard studied the occurrence and level of polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in public drinking water supplies. PFASs are chemicals used in fire-fighting foams and other industrial and commercial products and have been linked with cancer and other health issues. PFASs don’t biodegrade. While several manufacturers, according to Harvard, have stopped using PFASs, these chemicals persist in the environment and can contaminate water resources.
The study analyzed two types of water quality data. First, it looked at Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data collected from 2013 to 2015 from the 4,864 public drinking water systems in the U.S. serving more than 10,000 people. Helix Water District submitted four quarters of test results to the EPA in 2014. PFASs were not detected in any of the water samples we tested.
The study also analyzed industrial sites that manufacture or use PFASs, military bases and civilian airports where firefighting foam containing PFASs is used, and wastewater treatment plants. PFAS levels in water — streams, rivers and groundwater — were highest near these sites.