• September 13, 2022

    Increasing Water Recycling is an Imperative for Business

By: Chuck Chaitovitz, Vice President, Environmental Affairs and Sustainability, U.S. Chamber | Jon Freedman, Senior Vice President, Global Government Relations and Policy, Veolia Water Technologies & Solutions | Howard Neukrug, Executive Director, University of Pennsylvania, Water Center | Patricia Sinicropi, Executive Director, WateReuse Association

As the business community looks forward to the implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), companies and communities face growing challenges regarding available water to meet public health, economic, and food and energy security needs. Building smart, modern, resilient infrastructure is among our top priorities. The IIJA includes transformational investments in water and resilience to begin making important progress. 

As climate change accelerates, many adverse impacts manifest in water resources challenges. It is vitally important that the business community invest in water recycling and other new sources of local water to build resilience.

Many businesses have been recycling industrial water for a variety of reasons, including saving resources and money, reducing environmental footprint, and ensuring sustainable water supplies for their customers, employees, and the communities where they operate. 

Businesses want to do even more to help our nation mitigate our water scarcity and quality challenges. To that end, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and WateReuse Association are pleased to announce a new partnership to begin the development of an Industrial Water Reuse Champions Award. The award will recognize the top Fortune 1000 companies that incorporate the best-in-class water recycling and reuse programs to improve water stewardship and achieve their water management goals. The award program will be designed in partnership with Veolia Water Technologies & Solutions, University of Pennsylvania Water Center, and other industry leaders and stakeholders and will be provided on an annual basis beginning in March 2023 with an anticipated opening call for nominations in the fall of 2022. The award program is part of the National Water Reuse Action Plan, which is a multi-stakeholder effort lead by the Environmental Protection Agency to advance the science, policy, research, communications and more supporting water reuse and recycling.

Companies and communities have a shared interest in advancing water reuse and recycling as demonstrated in the IIJA which included over $1 billion over five years for water recycling programs for the Western United States, authorized an Alternative Water Source Grants Program, for reuse across the country, and directed the Administration to establish a federal Interagency Working Group on Water Reuse.  Industrial water use in the U.S. is second only to agribusiness in terms of water usage, and current industrial water reuse offsets only a fraction of these withdrawals.

Industrial and commercial reuse practices allow businesses to offset drinking water demand and increase the resilience of the communities in which they operate. For example, Arizona’s Frito-Lay Snack Food Plant reduced its annual water use by 100 million gallons by recycling nearly 75% of the facility’s process water.

As businesses continue to innovate solutions to meeting water challenges, the Chamber, WateReuse, and our members also are exploring additional policy actions including the development of an industrial tax credit. Creating an industrial tax credit of up to 30 percent of the project value when purchasing, designing, and installing water reuse systems will offer incentives to increase water recycling or the use of recycled water. The tax credits should be structured on a sliding scale, reflecting the size and impact of potential improvements.

We look forward to the awarding the first Industrial Water Reuse Champion Award next year and for continued momentum in this important area.