Transparency is one of the guiding principles of water stewardship. It is critical for the sustainable management of water resources for future generations. By sharing our water knowledge, we can contribute to a better common understanding of local water contexts, and be a catalyst for water stewardship practices in regions where we operate.
Water challenges impact all users, not just Nestlé Waters. Yet without knowledge or a common understanding of the challenges facing a shared water resource, collective action is unlikely. Transparency is therefore vital to water stewardship. Our teams of hydrogeologists and water experts across over 90 sites have deep knowledge of the watersheds where we are present. By sharing our water knowledge and raising local awareness, we can help stakeholders gain a better understanding of catchment-level challenges, and initiate or spur effective collaboration.
At Nestlé Waters, we have always conducted extensive hydro-geological studies of all the watersheds where we operate. The studies are supported by monitoring systems that continuously track the physical parameters of all catchments. This information can be used, for instance, to ensure that the quantity of water withdrawn from a source does not outpace its natural replenishment (sustainable water balance). Our monitoring may at times extend beyond the immediate locality of our sources to include the entire watershed. We also conduct more general environmental assessments on factors that can influence the health of a watershed or the quality of its water (e.g. biodiversity).
Our in-depth knowledge of water resources has allowed us to map and assess potential risks, and to inform decision-making on the collective actions needed to address those risks. To share our understanding of these challenges with local stakeholders, we extract the data from our hydro-geological studies and monitoring systems and provide it in an easy-to-understand format (e.g. 3-D block diagrams).
Fostering collective action
Nestlé Waters is committed to transparency as a means to encourage collective action. As an example of our advocacy for effective water stewardship in the communities where we operate, a two-year study was conducted to monitor the underground water reserves (basin) of the Shouf Mountains in Western Lebanon. Its findings: the area’s overall groundwater shows a yearly positive balance of roughly 12 million cubic meters per year, but to avoid droughts caused by significant seasonal shifts in surface water flows in the area’s springs and rivers, an integrated water resources management should be in place(better management is required.).
The research, conducted in one of most plentiful freshwater-generating spots in Lebanon and the Middle East overall, was commissioned by the Shouf Biosphere Reserve together with Nestlé Waters, and was carried out by the environmental management consultancy Antea Group. It lays out an action plan and recommendations to ensure integrated management of resources in the water basin. One of those recommendations is to establish a steering committee that will drive the execution recommendations of the study through an action plan. The committee includes representatives from the Lebanese Energy and Water, Environment and Agriculture ministries, local government authorities, concerned NGOs, and other interested groups.
“The results are very reassuring as far as groundwater levels in the Shouf are concerned,” said Cesar Abi Khalil, Lebanese Minister of Energy and Water, at the announcement ceremony held in Beirut. “We now look forward to continued collaboration with the private sector and local authorities and institutions, which was pivotal in taking the lead in this initiative, in order to implement the study’s recommended means to ensure sustainable water supply during dry seasons in the watershed.”