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Water Footprint

Locus cloud-based software offers the solution for the complex problem of footprinting water quality

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., May 24, 2010 — In response to international recognition of the need for industry to increase its water reporting efforts, Locus Technologies (Locus), leader in cloud-based environmental compliance and information management software, has expanded its award winning Environmental Information Management (EIM) software to include water quality footprinting capabilities for businesses.

EIM’s expanded functionality enables companies to manage and organize their water quality data on a larger and more comprehensive scale using cloud-based computing and storage, thus avoiding the need to buy additional environmental software or store the same data in more than one location. And, Locus’ innovative enterprise software model employs mashups — applications that integrate data or functionality from multiple sources or technologies — offering the potential to completely upend the way a corporation manages its water data.

There is little dispute in both scientific and business communities that water shortages represent a worldwide challenge no less important than climate change. Water is a finite resource, growing in scarcity as the world’s population explodes. The worldwide water shortage is acute — less than three percent of the world’s water supply is drinking water. In addition, there is one notable difference between water and air emissions. Any emission of unwanted gases into the air can be almost instantly remediated by cutting off the source. However, any gases that have escaped cannot be recaptured to be remediated. In contrast, water that is contaminated frequently can be treated, but the process is generally lengthy, costly, and energy-intensive. Once contaminated, water needs to be monitored until cleaned. Water is vital and its value varies according to locality, use, and conditions.

Over the last 15 years, Locus has focused on water quality and related issues. The company has a world-class team of experts with deep domain knowledge in this field. Locus’ flagship application EIM is successfully deployed at thousands of sites worldwide and contains organized water quality information at millions of locations. Existing regulations require monitoring and reporting of both groundwater and surface water contamination from various industrial processes, spills, and other releases. Until recently, such voluminous data was kept mainly to comply with regulatory reporting requirements regarding effluents and contamination.

However, governments and other voluntary reporting organizations such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the non-profit Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) are shifting their focus from compliance-based monitoring and reporting of effluents to reporting on the scarcity and quality of drinking water supplies, in effect monitoring the “water footprint” required of industry, agriculture, and manufacturing. The water accounting is the next big challenge for business.

CDP late last year launched its Water Disclosure initiative, seeking to increase reporting on water-related risks and opportunities, especially by companies operating in water-intensive sectors. CDP Water Disclosure will provide critical water-related data from the world’s largest corporations to inform the global market place on investment risk and commercial opportunity.

The total volume of freshwater used by a business defines its water quantity footprint. Water quantity footprints are measured in terms of volume of water consumed and/or contaminated per unit of time and are relatively easy to calculate. Such is not the case for water quality footprints, which require analyzing water samples for a potentially endless number of chemical parameters that define water quality in accordance with various regulatory standards such as the Clean Water Act. The amount and quantity of data generated in this process is staggering and unmanageable without sophisticated software tools, such as EIM provides.

“Water management issues represent a potentially huge area of risk for business. Reducing one’s water footprint should be part of the environmental strategy of a business, just like reducing one’s carbon footprint or energy usage already is. Our customers have traditionally focused on meeting emission standards associated with releases to water, air, and soil,” said Dr. Neno Duplan, President and CEO of Locus.

“Meeting emission standards for compliance purposes is one thing, but looking at how effluents’ management actually results in lower risk, reduced energy consumption, improved operational efficiency, and ultimately an improved bottom line is another thing. Leaders who create water quality transparency for their companies before others do, and who formulate specific and measurable targets with respect to water footprint reduction, can turn this into a competitive advantage and Locus software can help them do that,” continued Duplan.