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Watery thoughts

I very rarely think about the water that flows from the taps at home, and where it goes after I’ve used it. I would say probably the only time I even contemplate the water use is when I get the bill every six months. I’ve noticed that they’ve tacked a water waste use fee onto the bill – not only do we get charged for the water we use, but we also get charged for the water that goes down the drain after use. It has only taken a couple of decades, but the change has come, where water is becoming more valuable than oil.

The 2015 World Economic Forum report cited the global water crisis as the biggest threat that our planet will face over the next 10 years, dairy processing giant GEA reports. From droughts in the world’s most productive farming regions to the lack of access to safe water for billions of people, water crises will affect the populations and economies of both the developed and developing nations. In fact, figures from UN-Water suggest that by 2025, two thirds of the world’s population could be living under conditions of water stress, and 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity.

Where does that leave dairy processors, who use a fair amount of water in the production of dairy products? Well, if you’re like my household, you’re developing ways to economise with water, including water collection units on drainpipes and faster showers.

On the dairy processing side, a food manufacturer has installed a zero-water dairy processing plant in Mexico, which saves 1.6 million litres of water per year. This manufacturer is now investing in another zero-water milk plant in the US, which it projects could save some 63 million gallons of water every year. During 2015, the firm’s factories — in every product category, not just dairy — withdrew 41.2% less water per tonne of product than they did 10 years ago. This is just one example of many efforts by dairy producers to keep water use minimal.

So, the time to start conserving water is now. With 70% of the consumption being used in agriculture, we are at the sharp end for water use.

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