Value Chain Water Footprinting & Accounting

Using Water Footprinting and Accounting to calculate your water impact

What is a Water Footprint? 

A water footprint measures the total volume of freshwater used directly and indirectly to run and support a business.

Increasing population and economic growth, as well as shifting consumption patterns, caused global water use to increase sixfold over the past century, and it continues to grow at about 1% per year.  2030 global water demand is now expected to outstrip supply by 56%, a 40% increase over the 40% gap projected ten years ago. This situation is exacerbated by climate change, which is driving unprecedented regional volatility in water supply and quality.

In response, water stewardship strategies must evolve beyond basic compliance and operational cost reductions to include robust water footprinting and accounting to assess and secure the long-term availability of clean water throughout the value chain.


water challenges in districts

A hot spot analysis visualisation of water footprints

Our Water Footprinting & Water Accounting Services

Anthesis provides a comprehensive approach to better understand water-related impacts across business operations. Baselining water-related performance aids in assessing risks and opportunities, meeting business needs while ensuring long-term sustainability of local watersheds, preserving water quality, ensuring license to operate, managing reputational issues, identifying relevant stakeholders, and building trust in local communities.

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Case Studies

Integrating water inventory results into other water stewardship/sustainability initiatives

Anthesis supports clients across their entire water stewardship journey. This may include assessing and prioritising basin-level and local/operational water risks and opportunities, establishing goals/targets, reporting and disclosure, understanding the business case for water efficiency/quality improvements, collective action efforts, volumetric water benefit accounting, etc. Anthesis also works to integrate water-related insights into a client’s broader sustainability strategy to maximize resource efficiency and minimise environmental and social impacts.

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Our Water Sustainability Services

Water Footprinting: A water footprint is the total volume of freshwater used directly and indirectly to run and support a business. We design solutions that leverage publicly available datasets to estimate the blue (fresh surface water or groundwater), green (rain water), grey (water used to dilute pollution), and overall water footprints associated with a product, service or organisation.

Water Accounting: We assess water quantity and water quality across a company’s direct operations, as well as indirect water used in the manufacturing and provision of products and services across the value chain. Water accounting includes quantifying water withdrawals by source, water discharges by destination, water consumption, recycling/reuse, and incoming and outgoing water quality relative to standards. In addition, we can calculate Scope 2 water withdrawals and consumption embedded in purchased electricity and estimate avoided water use associated with conversion to less water-intensive sources of electricity.

Stakeholder Engagement: We identify potentially relevant internal and external stakeholders, including suppliers and locally relevant stakeholder groups in priority watersheds, to align on the proposed approach and to identify shared water challenges.
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Supplier Surveys: We develop and deploy supplier surveys with guidance materials to collect water accounting data from suppliers; this includes follow up with suppliers to maximize survey response and resolve any issues. If the client does not already have a tool for collecting and aggregating water data that is fit-for-purpose, Anthesis may leverage a variety of tools as a first step in an on-going process to improve and automate data management and reporting. This could include use of an Excel-based tool, sector-specific tools (e.g., the Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture’s Field to Market Fieldprint Calculator), web-based tools (e.g., Alchemer, previously SurveyGizmo), Anthesis’ Footprinter, or a custom tool.

Inventory Management Plan (IMP): We offer support in the development of an IMP to document the methodology, assumptions, existing data gaps and recommendations for improving data quality and streamlining the value chain inventory process.

Hot Spot Analysis: We identify and assess the most water-intensive products, services, operations and facilities across the value chain as priority areas for strategic focus.

Water Data Review: We obtain and review existing value chain mapping, data, processes, standards and guidelines to establish organizational and operational boundaries and align on the depth and breadth of the water inventory.
Software Tools: We maximise data quality and efficiency with a suite of software tools ranging from excel templates and web applications through to assessment and analysis tools of big data workflow, both in-house and partner tools, including Footprinter, and SimaPro software, as a licensed distributor. We also use interactive Tableau visualisations to demonstrate the water footprint hotspots to help the client identify areas of focus for water solutions.
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Data Illustrations and Tools: We deliver custom-built, interactive Excel-based tools to view detailed value chain water inventory results and hot spots, identify suppliers, products and operations that need to take action to reduce water usage, and inform target setting and water stewardship strategy development. We also build web-based Tableau dashboards consisting of customized, interactive reporting and visualization of value chain water inventory results at the portfolio, region, river basin, or site-level that can be shared with stakeholders and used to compare results, prioritize response actions, and track progress towards goals/targets.
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Anthesis has offices in the U.S., Canada, UK, France, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Andorra, Finland, Colombia, Brazil, China, the Philippines and the Middle East.