As a life-long Californian, I’ve always been awed by the state’s natural wonders. From Yosemite Falls in the Sierra Nevada Mountains to Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California, the state has incredible natural beauty. That’s why, even at an early age, I knew I wanted these types of resources to be cared for and preserved for future generations. My interest in water conservation and its efficient use began in college, where I studied fluid dynamics (how liquids and gases move) at California State University, Fullerton. Early in my career, I worked with dynamic small manufactures designing more efficient equipment and developing new strategies that would help our clients increase efficiency and water for sustainable operations. I also worked with a large engineering firm prior to my current position at Nestlé Waters North America (NWNA) where I worked on water supply and ground water remediation projects all over Southern California. While I matured in my career, I found that I was often drawn to the field whenever I had a chance. I had worked with NWNA on a few water supply projects as a consultant and learned about the opportunity to manage the natural resources in the southwest region. So twelve years ago, I joined NWNA as a natural resource manager. My primary responsibility is to work as a steward for the natural resources that we rely on and manage these sources in a long term sustainable environmentally sensitive way. I travel all over the west working in my position and spend much of my time in the study and monitoring these natural resources. In my position, I often work outdoors with experts including geologists, engineers and scientific advisors to help manage the overall sustainability of the company’s local spring water sources. I also work closely with our factory operations teams to implement water conservation measures that help to reduce our reliance on local water supplies. We assess sustainability in a few ways:
- Regular site visits to conduct visual and physical inspections of spring sources
- Consistent measurement of environmental features including water quality, water flows, precipitation, and where applicable local surface water flows and groundwater levels
- Through regular environmental surveys to monitor the long-term health of the habitats around the springs sites
Of course, the drought in California has been a major concern for us at Nestlé Waters – and this work is even more critical in light of the measures being put in place in the state to reduce water use. We have seen the impact of the drought on the businesses, families, and communities in the areas where we operate. We know that conservation and sustainability is top of mind for many Californians. When it comes to our operations, regular monitoring and management allows us to determine when and whether we need to diversify our spring water sources. At the same time, we are looking at ways to conserve through water reuse projects in our bottling facilities and investments in renewable energy across our operations in the state. For example, one of our newest projects will be upgrading technology to reuse water – as opposed to using potable water supplies – in our cooling towers in some of our bottled water facilities in California. Small changes like this are critical to improving our water efficiency and highest use. In fact once completed, this change, combined with changes to water efficient landscape designs at some of our California factories, will save us around 55 million gallons of water every year in California. The projects are currently being engineered and constructed to be fully operational in 2016.
In addition, we have been developing ways to employ alternative energies across our operations in the United States. In 2012, we worked with our energy provider and installed two wind turbines at our bottling plant in Cabazon, California. Those turbines can provide over 30 percent of the facilities power. We are also exploring ways to increase the amount of renewable energy we use at Cabazon in order to power the plant in its entirety. Whether it is the monitoring and management of our spring sources or working with our teams in our factory to look for other opportunities to build on Nestlé’s global commitment to the environment, I am proud of that effort. California is my home and we need to make sure that everyone – no matter the sector – is doing their part to help conserve resources used across this great state.
Larry Lawrence Natural Resource Manager, NWNA