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Santa Ana Watershed Site Water Targets Pilot

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Santa Ana Watershed Site Water Targets Pilot

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Project Overview

The Pacific Institute, in its role as co-secretariat for the CEO Water Mandate, coordinated a clustered pilot for setting site water targets in the Santa Ana River Watershed (SARW) in southern California. This helped test and inform global guidance under development for setting site water targets. The pilot was done in coordination with the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority (SAWPA), the California Water Action Collaborative (CWAC), and several companies with facilities...

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The Pacific Institute, in its role as co-secretariat for the CEO Water Mandate, coordinated a clustered pilot for setting site water targets in the Santa Ana River Watershed (SARW) in southern California. This helped test and inform global guidance under development for setting site water targets. The pilot was done in coordination with the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority (SAWPA), the California Water Action Collaborative (CWAC), and several companies with facilities and operations in the watershed. Companies that took part in this pilot are: Coca-Cola, Ecolab, Hilton (represented by WWF in this pilot), Nestlé USA, Nestlé Waters North America, Niagara Water, PepsiCo, and Target. Several companies participating in the pilot had also undergone or were in the process of pursuing AWS certification, and saw this pilot as a way to complement their AWS work.

The purpose of the pilot was to help participating companies understand the local water context and engage with peer companies, public sector water managers, and other stakeholders in the catchment to align on key water challenges and set meaningful site targets. This target-setting can help companies prioritize actions and investments that address the key water challenges in the region.

Project Results

The purpose of the pilot was to help participating companies understand the local water context and engage with peer companies, public sector water managers, and other stakeholders in the catchment to align on key water challenges and set meaningful site targets. This target-setting can help companies prioritize actions and investments that address the key water challenges in the region.

Below are some learnings based on the experience of the pilot, collected from the project team and pilot testing companies.

1. Use local water management resources (plans and people). Local water planning documents are compendiums of critical information for understanding the catchment context. Engage water managers by inviting them to stakeholder convenings, sharing insights, and asking for their input on the site water target-setting process.

2. Set clear end dates for site water targets and encourage public sector water managers to do the same. There is often a lack of a clear end date for achieving water-related goals in public-sector water planning. In order to be a SMART target, there must be an established time frame.

3. All water issues are interrelated. The six water challenge categories are inextricably connected and therefore can be difficult to assess individually. It is important to acknowledge these connections, but also to break down the challenges into manageable pieces that can be addressed by explicit targets and actions.

4. Site water targets and actions should go beyond the fenceline. The project team and pilot testers acknowledge that, in a catchment as large, complex, and water-challenged as the SARW, each individual site has little impact and within-fenceline actions alone are not sufficient to address the issues at hand. In order to make a substantial positive impact on the catchment, companies should also look to engage in collaborative projects in the communities and local waterways around their site and in their source water catchments.

5. Qualitative goals are okay. There is a marked lack of quantitative water goals at the catchment scale in the SARW. Where there is a dearth of data or quantitative guidance on the desired condition of the catchment, it is better for a company to set qualitative targets than none at all.

6. Depending on organizational structure, the process of setting site water targets can be led by a corporate water team or site-level management, or both. For companies uniquely structured, undergoing organizational changes or facing resource or time constraints, it is possible to participate in site target-setting even if it is not led at the site level. For example, a company may have a water expert who sits at a regional or corporate level who may be best equipped to lead the process.

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