The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has issued a new water efficiency management standard to help businesses cope with the growing water demand.

ISO has published ISO 46001Water Efficiency Management Systems — Requirements with Guidance for Use, to help organisations of all sizes to be more water-efficient, as demand continues to grow and supplies becomes less unpredictable because of climate change.

ISO says the need for water efficiency programmes is particularly acute for businesses involved in mining, forestry, oil and gas extraction, and in agriculture, but says it is just as important for those operating in the commercial and industrial sectors, regardless of whether water is supplied by water utilities or comes directly from the environment.

ISO 46001 compliments other environmental management system standards, including the recently published water footprinting standard ISO 14046. It provides methods and tools for assessing and accounting for water usage, as well as ways to identify and implement measures to optimise water use.

The standard specifies water efficiency management system (WEMS) requirements and contains guidance to help organisations implement a water efficiency policy through the establishment of objectives, targets, action plans, monitoring, benchmarking, and review programs.

ISO 46001 follows initial work to develop a national standard in Singapore, one of the first to help organisations benefit from the use of a water efficiency management system. Ms Wai Cheng Wong, Chief Engineer in the Water Supply Network, who helped develop the standard said:

“…managing industrial water use has been a priority for Singapore, given that the bulk of our water demand comes from the non-domestic sector, which is expected to increase further. Therefore, we strongly believe that ISO 46001 will be an important tool for all organisations around the world to bring about greater water efficiency and savings in their operations.”

The standard also contributes directly to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), which seeks to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”.

Last reviewed 7 August 2019