Why is water an important issue?
Water is at the heart of every aspect of human development. We need water to nourish us, sustain the natural world, produce food and energy, and propel economic growth.
But threats to water availability are increasing. Growth in global population— expected to reach 9.8 billion people by 2050 — puts a strain on this already stressed resource. According to the United Nations World Water Development Report 2018, demand for fresh water has increased by a factor of six over the past 100 years and continues to grow steadily at a rate of about 1% per year. By 2050, global water demand will be 30% higher than today and up to 3 billion people could be living in potentially severely water-scarce areas. In the United States alone, 40 of 50 state water managers expect shortages in some portion of their states over the next 10 years.
At the same time, water quality is also deteriorating. Globally, over 80% of wastewater flows back into the environment without being treated or reused.
Rising demand for water and deteriorating water quality threaten the safety and health of people and impact the balance of nature. Businesses are expected to play a significant role in achieving the bold and transformative steps urgently needed to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path. Toyota is committed to doing our part to ensure sustainable water use. That's why Toyota Motor North America (TMNA) named "Water" as one of our four environmental sustainability focus areas.
What are we doing to manage water sustainably?
Here in North America, our water strategy emphasizes water stewardship, defined as use of water that is socially equitable, environmentally sustainable and economically beneficial, achieved through a stakeholder-inclusive process that involves site- and watershed-based actions. Our projects focus on:
Team members are always on the lookout for ways to conserve water. The more water we recycle and reuse, the less we have to bring in from fresh water sources. This is especially important in areas of water stress, where water isn't always readily available. We've installed reverse osmosis systems and membrane bio reactors and implemented a variety of projects to get more out of every drop.
Protecting water quality is a key component of Toyota's approach to water stewardship. Some of our sites discharge wastewater, which we monitor and treat to meet local, state and federal regulations and to avoid negatively impacting water bodies.