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KPI of the Day – Utilities: # Fresh water withdrawn for business use

fresh water


Measures the total quantity of fresh water withdrawal for industrial use and sanitation by a company from different sources, such as water authorities, lakes, rivers and wells, during the reporting period.


To monitor the water consumption of a company.


Withdrawal of freshwater, commonly sourced from surface water, renewable and fossil groundwater, is used mainly for irrigation and agricultural purposes. According to a report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 70% of freshwater withdrawals are channeled towards agriculture, 19% are handled by businesses and the remaining 11% are administered by municipalities.

Freshwater withdrawal or abstraction for business purposes is mainly used for the production of electricity (primarily for cooling water) and to a lesser extent in the manufacturing industry. For the business/manufacturing industry water withdrawals are used especially for the manufacturing of refined petroleum products and basic metal products.

The typology of this KPI can provide valuable insight into compliance levels with water efficiency usage given the increasing freshwater shortage that has been reported in business environments. Optimization of water use in business environments is important because it can lower water withdrawals from local surface sources thus increasing water availability.

Some recommendations on optimizing # Freshwater withdrawal for business use include the following:

  • Creating incentives to support the creation of policies and frameworks for water withdrawal optimization within specific industries;
  • Engaging employees in the process of identifying problems and finding innovative problem-solving solutions to reduce water usage;
  • Implementation of greywater treatment systems that allow water to be re-used internally or encourage water re-utilization between businesses.

This indicator is also known as the water footprint of businesses. The water footprint of a business consists of two components: the direct water use by the producer (for producing / manufacturing or for supporting activities) and the indirect water use (the water use in the producer’s supply chain). This KPI can also be measured as fresh water withdrawn per unit of product.

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