Strong Site Teams Lead to Successful Water Stewardship
For most companies, local water stewardship action is centered around an operational site such as a manufacturing plant or office campus. An active site team can be instrumental in driving a company’s water stewardship journey.
January 31, 2023
Working with Site Teams
For most organizations, local water stewardship action is centered around an operational site such as a manufacturing plant or office campus. Regardless of the unique path each organization takes along its own water stewardship journey, a common set of elements play an important role and are woven together within the various steps of the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) Standard framework. One of the first steps is to work with site teams.
An engaged and enthusiastic site team is an invaluable component of successfully implementing water stewardship actions and commitments. An active site team can be instrumental in driving a company’s water stewardship journey. A site’s water stewardship team should include a variety of local or regional staff with roles that relate to water in some way. A water stewardship team often has representation from many different internal teams, such as facilities management, environmental health and safety, sustainability, security, procurement, food, and public affairs, to provide a balance of perspectives.
What value can a diverse, cross-functional group of internal stakeholders bring to the AWS Standard implementation process?
Personal Connections with External Stakeholders
Stakeholder engagement is often a daunting yet crucial step in implementing the AWS Standard. However, there is likely someone on site who has a working relationship with the water utility, even if it’s just through paying utility bills. Perhaps someone has a connection with a water-related non-governmental organization (NGO) through their personal volunteer efforts. Site team members are also members of the local community, bringing their personal and professional connections to the table.
Varied Perspectives Related to On-Site Water Operations
Due to their roles and responsibilities, team members will view water-related risk through slightly different lenses. They may each have expertise in drinking water quality, flooding, stormwater management, local regulatory compliance, reclaimed water, wastewater treatment, ecology/landscaping, or embedded water in supply chains. All of these are unique perspectives on water and can contribute to developing a multi-faceted and impactful site water stewardship plan. With ongoing initiatives already in place, site team members are likely doing good work that is relevant to water stewardship. These activities can and should be folded into the site’s water stewardship plan.
Opportunities for Collaboration
Site team members may each have roles that relate to water, but day-to-day operations and responsibilities may not naturally foster collaboration among the team. Water stewardship requires looking at site water use and management holistically, which can only happen by bringing these people together. Being part of a water stewardship team can help staff members see connections between their work and others that they wouldn’t have found otherwise.
Before committing to the AWS Standard, a site may not have a dedicated champion for water stewardship. Often, it is more work than any person can take on alone, on top of their existing responsibilities. Helping site team members connect their roles with the mission of the AWS Standard can develop an enthusiasm for sustainability and stewardship and can even help them find deeper meaning in their roles through connections with local and global water issues. Team members are often excited to find that their involvement in AWS Standard implementation can positively impact their watershed.
Collaboration Leads to Innovation
Bringing these people to the table has the potential to spark creativity and partnerships to advance water stewardship at the site. Members can learn from each other, provide valuable feedback, and support each other in working within the structure of their organization. In our work supporting AWS implementation and initiatives, we have seen innovative ideas come out of a water stewardship team meeting that may not have been voiced if this diverse group of people had not been brought together with the common goal of implementing the AWS Standard.
As an organization matures in its water stewardship journey, each site team member may also experience their own journey of growth as a water steward. Individuals will begin to carve out areas where they can make a greater impact and can push the organization to take more meaningful water stewardship action. Anyone whose role touches water has the potential to connect their day-to-day responsibilities with the larger mission of water stewardship. This may even give them a way to find deeper meaning in their work. Connecting with the mission of AWS in this way can make the site team’s efforts more impactful and long-lasting.
As an organization matures in its water stewardship journey, each site team member may also experience their own journey of growth as a water steward.
LimnoTech has extensive experience working with site teams as part of the AWS Standard implementation process and other water stewardship activities. We can help an organization identify potential water stewardship site team members, assist with convening the group, and facilitate workshops to guide the site team through the process of AWS Standard implementation. Although site team members often have competing demands and responsibilities, we find that most are enthusiastic about water stewardship and want to be engaged. As we have seen across many sites, a strong site water stewardship team is key to ensuring AWS Standard implementation leads to long-lasting impacts.
If you would like to learn more or discuss how LimnoTech can support your organization’s needs related to water sustainability, corporate water stewardship, the AWS Standard, or water-related stakeholder engagement, please contact Saloni Dagli at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article is the fifth in a series of articles authored by LimnoTech staff on water stewardship. Follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter (@LimnoTech), and check our website’s Insights & Perspectives page for more information and updates.
Links to the other water stewardship articles in this series are provided below:
Saloni Dagli, PE, is an Environmental Engineer with expertise in corporate water stewardship and sustainability, stormwater management, green infrastructure, integrated planning, data analysis and management, and environmental justice. Saloni has supported corporate water stewardship clients from a range of sectors (tech, hospitality, food and beverage) by conducting stakeholder mapping, project scoping, water risk assessments, and volumetric water benefit evaluations. Saloni is a Professional Credentialed Specialist Consultant for the application of the AWS Water Stewardship Standard. She has worked with the tech business sector in implementing and auditing the standard.
Nate Jacobson is an Environmental Scientist with expertise in corporate water stewardship and sustainability, biological services, stormwater management, and data management and analysis. Since joining LimnoTech in 2015, Nate has worked on a wide variety of projects for many different client sectors, including project scoping and volumetric water benefit quantification, water risk assessments, water stewardship plan development, and stakeholder mapping. Nate is a Professionally Credentialed Specialist Consultant for applying the AWS Water Stewardship Standard and has worked both in implementing and auditing the standard.
The content herein is the author’s opinion and not published on behalf of the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS). The author holds an AWS Professional Credential and this piece of publishing helps fulfill their Continuing Contribution Units requirements. For more information about AWS or the AWS Professional Credentialing Program please visit https://a4ws.org/.