The harsh reality is that climate change could leave two-thirds of the world without fresh, drinkable water, and the vast majority of that water is used by more industrialized nations with China and the United States leading the pack.
And while there are numerous things everyday people can do to use less water, from taking shorter showers to using high-efficiency appliances and toilets, U.S. industrial water use accounts for 18.2 billion gallons per day, with the most water-intensive products being paper, beer, sugar, steel, soap, and gasoline, with apparel, electronics, agriculture, and energy as high-impact sectors.
Water is used for a lot more than drinking, and as the threat of water scarcity plays out in the states that use the Colorado River, water tech could become paramount in helping the states which use the most, Nevada, Arizona, and California, meet their reduction targets.
That’s why San Francisco-based startup, Waterplan created a platform to help companies measure, respond and report changing water risks so that by showing companies the case for mitigation from a business and financial-security perspective, they can accelerate the transition to a world where organizations are incentivized to save more water.
The goal is that those billions of gallons of water used a day for water-intensive products can end up costing businesses less to make if they went the more efficient route, and by mapping out where companies can change, not only for their and the world’s sakes but to comply with rising climate reporting regulation, they can pollute fewer byproducts, conserve crucial watershed — especially in drought-vulnerable areas — and preserve the shared value of fresh water.
With a recently raised $11 million “oversubscribed” Series A round — bringing Waterplan’s total venture funding to $18.5 million — the company hopes to grow and expand its impact on restoration and climate adaptation efforts.
The VC firm Base10 Partners led the investment with the firm’s co-founder and Managing Partner Adeyemi Ajao joining the Waterplan board. Previous investors also participated, like Giant Ventures & Transition Global (who co-led the seed round), YCombinator, MCJ Collective, and the Branson Family.
According to Jose Ignacio Galindo, CEO and co-founder of Waterplan, “Both governments and the private sector face existential challenges around how they manage their freshwater supply. Disruptions are getting more frequent. The world is simply not responding at the pace and the scale that is consistent with the problem. Taking action on water risks is essential for climate action and it makes business sense.”
In addition to the 40% shortfall in freshwater supply, the United Nations predicts will occur by 2030, the private sector alone faces more than $300 billion in potential losses due to the financial impact of water risk, Waterplan reports. According to the startup, that’s five times higher than the costs of addressing water scarcity today.
That’s why there is increasing regulation around the subject, with Britain, the European Union, Switzerland, Brazil, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, and Singapore all having some level of climate and water-disclosure and nature-related protocols. The States may be poised to follow, as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has proposed similar rules.
So how does Waterplan assess the risks?
Using an artificial intelligence-powered software platform, with a splash of satellite imagery, and a spritz of real-time climate change data, mixed in with a couple of droplets of personal company data, Waterplan is able to measure, respond and report on a company's water management risk. The platform already serves big names like beverage companies like the world's largest brewer ABInBev, Coca-Cola, Diageo, and Patron Bacardi, tech and commerce giants like Amazon and Meta, and even groups that have conversation baked into their organizations like The Nature Conservancy.
According to Kari Vigerstol, Director of Water Security Science and Innovation for The Nature Conservancy’s global water program, the conservancy uses Waterplan’s platform to help monitor and track the progress in on-the-ground water stewardship projects across Latin America.
“Waterplan's platform helps to track water risks and on the ground-progress that Water Funds can report on, internally and externally,” she said.
The startup plans to put fresh funding into research and product development to advance the science of water risk management and ignite plans to expand further across the U.S. as well as go across the pond to Europe, Latin America, and Asia.
According to Ajao, freshwater supply is one of the world’s biggest challenges. Waterplan’s solution is unique because it “provides immediate actionable insights to de-risk an incredibly complicated, inter-connected and potentially expensive problem.”