General Mills, Driscoll’s, Coca-Cola and KB Home Launch Business Campaign Urging Bolder Strategies to Conserve Water
SAN FRANCISCO, March 5, 2015 /3BL Media/ — As California’s devastating drought enters its fourth year, and farmers face a second consecutive year with reduced surface water supplies, a diverse coalition of global businesses with significant supply chains or operations in California today announced Connect the Drops, a new campaign urging aggressive measures to maximize California's local and state water resources.
Launched by Ceres, a nonprofit sustainability advocacy organization, the campaign centers on a public declaration, signed by The Coca-Cola Company, Driscoll’s, Gap Inc., General Mills, KB Home, and Symantec. More companies are expected to join the effort in the coming weeks and months. The declaration states:
“We cannot risk our state’s economic future by relying on outdated water management practices, policies and infrastructure. Now is the time for fresh thinking, shared purpose and bold solutions to build a resilient water future for all Californians. And it is incumbent on us—the business community—to help lead the way.”
“Driscoll’s roots in California stretch back nearly 150 years in the Pajaro Valley where Driscoll’s originated,” said Kelley Bell, VP of Social and Environmental Impact, Driscoll’s, the world’s largest berry company. “As a family-owned company that is highly dependent on groundwater, we recognize that our future hinges on reliable water sources. Without good water stewardship our communities will suffer and the future economy of California will be bleak. We joined Ceres campaign because we are not alone in facing this challenge or in recognizing the threat, and the solution will only come from a shared understanding of the problem and a willingness to address it together.”
Currently 93 percent of California is categorized as being in a severe, extreme or exceptional drought. The state’s agriculture economy lost more than $2.2 billion in 2014, and farmers left more than half a million acres of fields unplanted.
“Water is an issue we can no longer take for granted – whether we are looking at supply reliability, environmental protection, or water quality. Fortunately, there are solutions within reach for the challenges we face. The business community’s voice in elevating the issues – through efforts like Connect the Drops – is hugely important for the future of our state’s economy and well-being,” said Felicia Marcus, Chair, State Water Resources Control Board.
Companies signing on to the campaign agree to 1) make and implement business commitments to support the state’s action plan for water conservation, and 2) engage with policymakers, employees, customers and their peers on improving water management and enhancing water efficiency.
Driscoll’s, for example, has implemented a suite of measures in the Pajaro Valley, from requiring their growers there to report groundwater use, to co-founding a public-private partnership called the Community Water Dialogue. The Pajaro Valley Community Water Dialogue has several work streams including the development of groundwater recharge zones and supporting the use of technologies for irrigation management.
Coca-Cola North America, which operates 53 facilities in California, has implemented water efficiency improvements saving nearly 280 million gallons of water.
“Coca-Cola recognizes that clean, accessible water is essential to the health of communities and ecosystems – and is indispensable for economic prosperity,” said Jon Radtke, manager of sustainability for Coca-Cola North America. “In California and around the world, we work with our facilities, local water agencies and community partners to evaluate water resources and maximize water conservation efforts. Initiatives like Connect the Drops are important as our water resources become more stressed. By working together with other businesses, government and civil society, we hope to make a much greater impact than any one organization or sector could hope to achieve alone.”
Similarly, KB Home, one of the nation’s largest homebuilders, developed the Double ZeroHouse that is so highly water efficient it uses less than half the water of an average home.
"KB Home has prioritized water conservation in our development projects,” said Larry Gotlieb of KB Home. “The Connect the Drops campaign will help the California business community highlight to elected officials that efforts spent on water stewardship now will ensure the strength of California’s economy for decades to come."
General Mills operates several production facilities in California and sources a large number of ingredients from thousands of tomato, almond, berry, dairy and other farmers across the state.
“General Mills takes its responsibility to be good stewards of the planet’s resources very seriously and, in California, that means reducing our water usage at our production facilities and working with our growers and suppliers to ensure agriculture continues to thrive in a sustainable manner, said Ellen Silva, senior manager of Global Sustainability, General Mills. “We firmly believe that in order for Californian citizens, businesses, farmers and the ecosystem to thrive, we must all work together to manage the water supply sustainably.”
“Connect the Drops will bring the much needed business voice to the table on water policy in Sacramento," said Kirsten James, a Senior Manager at Ceres who is directing the Connect the Drops campaign. "It is critical for a diverse group of stakeholders to demand aggressive action from our state leaders in order to secure California’s water future."
Headquartered in Boston, Ceres recently opened a new office in San Francisco to expand its work in California. “With the opening of our office in California, Ceres is poised to mobilize our networks of companies and investors in support of statewide sustainable climate, energy and water policies,” said Ana Zacapa, Director, Ceres California.
For more information, please visit www.ceres.org/connect-the-drops
Ceres is an advocate for sustainability leadership. Ceres mobilizes a powerful coalition of investors, companies and public interest groups to accelerate and expand the adoption of sustainable business practices and solutions to build a healthy global economy. Ceres directs the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), a network of over 100 institutional investors with collective assets totaling more than $13 trillion. Ceres also directs Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP), an advocacy coalition of more than 30 businesses committed to working with policy makers to pass meaningful energy and climate legislation. For more information, visit www.ceres.org or follow on Twitter @CeresNews.