Lisette Provencher, senior vice president of Operations Support for United Water reflects on initiatives to meet sustainable development commitments and enhance the sustainability of a national water utility and environmental service operator.
The concept of what defines a sustainable community has been discussed by many companies, cities and governments. It’s our belief that leaders of today are thinking about the future that they want to see tomorrow for themselves, their children and their grandchildren.
We know that clean drinking water, fresh air, and untainted arable land are becoming less abundant. Yet, we must maintain—and even increase—access to these natural resources to meet our present needs. How is this possible without threatening the viability of future generations? The answer is simple—by replenishing as we go through sustainable development—but the delivery is complex and difficult.
United Water’s focus and attention is to have a balanced integration and alignment of economic, environmental, and social alliances to help construct what it means to be a sustainable community. While we understand that an assimilated approach will bring differing opinions, the outcome of these collaborations will result in a more sustainable community.
This pursuit of sustainable communities is part of United Water’s 2012 Sustainable Development Report . The report gives an honest assessment of where we succeeded and where we fell short of our goals in 2012.
United Water’s Sustainable Development Policy is organized around four priorities and 12 commitments. The priorities are:
(1) conserve resources by reusing, recycling and reducing;
(2) innovate to respond to environmental challenges;
(3) empower our employees as actors of sustainable development; and
(4) build our development goals with all stakeholders.
While we are certainly proud of our accomplishments in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, water leaks and theft, energy use within our operations, and in hiring more women in leadership roles, to name a few, we realize we have a long way to go.
For example, energy is used in five stages in the water cycle: extracting and conveying water, treating water, distributing water, using water and collecting and treating wastewater. Since 2009, United Water has reduced the energy used in our operations by 26% but we must and we will continue on this sustainable path.
We believe that many of the best innovations and sustainable solutions are developed from the ground up – from our local operators and the communities where we operate. We have pledged to incorporate the expectations of our stakeholders in our operations and development. And we are developing avenues – through stakeholder engagement – to enhance the sustainable development practices in the nearly 115 communities that United Water serves across the country.
So no matter what role you play in this extended community—customer, client, lawmaker, United Water employee, regulator, or environmentalist—we need you to ask questions and to challenge us to do better. Our sustainable future is counting on it. We’re listening to comments on our blog and to feedback on our social media channels @unitedwater and www.facebook.com/UnitedWater.
For a link to United Water’s 2012 Sustainable Development Report please click here.
Lisette Provencher serves as senior vice president, operations support, for United Water and SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT NORTH AMERICA. Provencher oversees all aspects of the company’s operations support group which includes capital planning, research and innovation, quality management, and technical support and training. She also oversees the sustainable development program.
Posted in Water, Environmental, Policy, Public works, Community on Wednesday, October 23, 2013 4:27 pm. Updated: 11:48 am. | Tags: Blog , United Water , Water Conservation , Water Recycling , Emissions , Strategy , Legislation , Wastewater , Water Distribution , Stakeholder Engagement