Juan Rico walks by a barren cotton field 27 July 2011 near Hermleigh, Texas. A severe drought has caused the majority of dry-land (non-irrigated fields) cotton crops to fail in the region. Photo: Scott Olson / Getty ImageBy Constance Gustke, Special to CNBC.com
17 Jul 2013

(CNBC) – Three straight years of blistering drought have strained Texas' water resources. Some cities like Midland are already steeply raising their water prices. But it's not just residents of the Lone Star State feeling parched. Texas-based companies are scrambling to reduce their water usage and enact long-term water management plans as a critical business concern.

"As the drought continues, industry's eyes are opening," said Jordan Furnans, senior engineer at INTERA, a Texas-based geosciences and engineering firm. Those eyes are opening to discover that more dry years are coming, he said.

There's a desperate need for water to fuel industrial, chemical, and energy operations in some parts of Texas. "If plants shut down, they're losing millions of dollars per day," Furnans said.

Such tight water resources are forcing some Texas-based companies to adopt aggressive water management. They're drilling deeper wells—up to 4,000 feet—to find more water. And they're reusing waste water and even turning to systems that can use salt water.

Texas is a lesson for companies everywhere. Most companies do not currently have a water management plan. That has to change as water shortages appear around the globe. Food companies--especially bottlers like Pepsi and Coca Cola—are already revamping their water usage, but many more water management solutions will have to be embraced in the next few years to help companies stay ahead of the greatest global scarcity challenge—access to fresh water.

"If you don't have an active water management plan in place, you're courting disaster," Furnan said. [more]

As drought spreads, firms could be up the creek



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