Innovative approaches to water management
The management of water resources is a critical issue for businesses across the world. Water is a shared resource that requires a collaborative approach to managing its use, quality and supply. The use of alternative supplies (such as recycling and reuse of wastewater) and adoption of alternative water-efficient processes are important steps towards water conservation.
ERM assists organizations with strategic and programmatic changes required to improve their water management approaches. In addition, an increasing number of clients are asking ERM to provide insights and understanding of their exposure to water-related risks from floods, droughts, contamination and managing the growing need for new water supplies.
For our oil and gas clients, treated reclaimed produced water can serve as a particularly innovative and important way to augment surface water and groundwater supplies, especially in drought-stricken areas.
In a recent ERM study, we combined risk assessment methodologies and thresholds, developed by the US and California environmental protection agencies, to establish health-based benchmarks to assess the quality of reclaimed water for long-term use in agricultural irrigation in the San Joaquin Valley of California. The study found that measured concentrations of constituents in reclaimed produced water and blended irrigation water were below health-based comparison levels, validating the state's permitting of its use for agricultural irrigation. Permitting use of reclaimed water will allow our oil and gas clients to continue to add water to the state’s water balance, providing water for irrigation while offsetting the demand on freshwater aquifers, protecting them for future use.
Such projects reflect ERM's capacity to promote and strengthen the collaboration between industry, regulators and the public in the management of a key challenge for society.