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Tracking Water Performance: Metering and Metrics

DuPont began to explore potential water metrics in the mid-1990s as part of the company’s growing focus on sustainability. The effort met initial internal resistance at the facility level due to “metrics fatigue” and concerns that certain metrics definitions related to water “consumption” would unfairly penalize some facilities when compared to others. Over time, EHS staff built awareness at the facility level, used examples illustrating the benefits of metrics, and made a sufficient business case for proceeding. DuPont formed a team of corporate and facility personnel, supplemented by water resource and engineering experts, to determine how to best approach water performance measurement.

The team examined water metrics developed by other companies and found total water intake to be the most commonly measured parameter. After significant consideration, the team opted to measure four key aspects of water use:

  • Consumption of potable water—a measure of all water withdrawn from municipal potable supplies (considered 100% consumption)
  • Consumption of groundwater—a measure of all water withdrawn and displaced from groundwater sources, even if returned to surfacewater (considered 100% consumption)
  • Consumption of surfacewater—the “consumed” portion is the difference between the intake and outtake volumes
  • Total water intake from surfacewater—a measure of total water withdrawn from surfacewaters, including water returned to surfacewater bodies and water consumed through evaporation, irrigation, or other uses

Facilities routinely enter this water data into DuPont’s environmental information systems, enabling roll-up and analysis of the data by location, region, business unit, or other criteria. Under DuPont’s Corporate Environmental Plan, facilities are required to develop performance goals and targets associated with these water metrics to foster improvement over time.

Module 5