Opportunities for SMEs to cut costs and become more sustainable in use of water as Uisce Éireann and Small Firms Association join forces to promote Water Stewardship

September 26, 2023

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 26 2023 - Small and medium sized enterprises across Ireland could make big savings on their water bills and improve the sustainability of their businesses by participating in Uisce Éireann’s world-leading water stewardship programme.

Uisce Éireann has teamed up with the Small Firms Association to promote the water stewardship programme which aims to raise awareness about the importance of water conservation and provide SMEs with the necessary tools and knowledge to become water-friendly businesses. This follows a recent survey carried out on behalf of Uisce Éireann which found that achieving cost savings and satisfying customers desires for more sustainable products and services are the most important drivers influencing SME decision-making on investment in sustainability.

By signing up for the Water Stewardship Programme, SMEs can reap a range of benefits. Firstly, this initiative will enable them to understand the significance of taking action on water and the positive impact it can have on their operations. In addition, participating businesses will benefit from enhanced reputational advantages as the programme is accepted under Bord Bia's esteemed Origin Green Scheme. Moreover, the Water Stewardship Programme is accredited by the European Water Stewardship Standard (EWS) which further reinforces its credibility.

Cara Lloyd from the Corner Bakery in Terenure, a water champion SME, highlighted the benefits of the Water Stewardship Programme by stating, "This online course is an excellent opportunity for businesses to enhance their knowledge and make informed decisions about water conservation. The flexible nature of the course allowed me to integrate the learning process with my busy schedule. Implementing the strategies learned has resulted in significant water savings for my business."

Elizabeth Bowen from SFA added, "We are thrilled to partner with Uisce Éireann in promoting this programme to our members. By participating in the Water Stewardship Programme, business will gain invaluable knowledge and guidance on conducting water audits specific to their businesses. This will allow them to identify and implement water conservation and efficiency measures, resulting in cost savings and a reduced environmental impact."

According to Christine Crawford from Uisce Éireann, "Water is a vital resource, and it is essential for every business to recognise the need for responsible water usage. A recent survey carried out on behalf of Uisce Éireann found that more than half of SMEs believe operating a sustainable business attracts more customers. By joining the Water Stewardship Programme for SMEs, companies can proactively contribute towards protecting the environment and conserving this precious resource, while also improving their sustainability credentials.”

As part of the programme, SMEs will have access to an online self-study course, making it convenient for them to learn at their own pace from anywhere and at any time. The course consists of two modules. Module 1 focuses on improving water stewardship in business operations, while Module 2 guides participants on how to conduct a water audit.

The Water Stewardship Programme for SMEs is completely free of charge and easily accessible online. It provides a comprehensive understanding of water stewardship, informs about conducting water audits, and equips SMEs with the knowledge to save water, reduce costs, and actively contribute to tackling the climate crisis.

To learn more about the Water Stewardship Programme for SMEs, please visit water.ie/stewardship.



Notes to Editor:

Uisce Éireann is responsible for delivering public drinking water and wastewater services for the people of Ireland. We are committed to enabling communities to thrive by continuously upgrading and developing critical infrastructure to support sustainable growth and development, providing safe drinking water, and enhancing the environment. To find out more visit www.water.ie

Uisce Éireann’s world leading Water Stewardship Programme

Uisce Éireann’s world-leading Water Stewardship Training programme helps businesses lower their water use and operating costs while protecting the environment.

The programme is the first of its kind globally and is fully funded by Uisce Éireann and Lean & Green Skillnet.

Among the leading organisations which have graduated from our Water Stewardship Programme are Wyeth Nutrition, Dublin Airport Authority, Dalata Hotel group, Intel and Dublin City University

Since its inception in 2019, the Uisce Éireann Water Stewardship Programme has led to the implementation of over 1400 new water improvement projects across Ireland, including water harvesting and other demand reduction measure. From large-scale initiatives to community-based efforts, each project serves to enhance water quality and conservation measures. The impact is undeniable, with an impressive average water reduction of 20% per site, demonstrating commitment to responsible water usage.

Annual water savings have been significant, with tangible results that showcase Irish businesses dedication to sustainability. Through the Uisce Éireann Water Stewardship Programme, a remarkable 70% of participating organisations have committed to ambitious annual water targets. This high level of compliance demonstrates Ireland's business community has unwavering commitment to achieving long-term water sustainability goals.

One of the key achievements of the Uisce Éireann Water Stewardship Programme is the education and training of water stewards across the nation. Over 700 individuals have been empowered through comprehensive training, equipping them with the knowledge and tools to become water champions in their communities. These water stewards actively contribute to the success of the programme by promoting responsible water use and driving positive change at a grassroots level.

Furthermore, in a significant development, the Uisce Éireann Water Stewardship Programme has taken a proactive step to address the unique challenges faced by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Ireland. Through the newly established Water Stewardship for SMEs Programme, a tailored approach has been introduced to help these businesses adopt sustainable water practices. This innovative initiative further emphasises our commitment to inclusive water stewardship, fostering a culture of responsible water use among organisations of all sizes.

The Water Stewardship for SMEs Programme is an online self-study course introducing water stewardship and water conservation in the context of small businesses. The course takes approximately 45-60 minutes to complete.

The Uisce Éireann Water Stewardship Programme has firmly positioned Ireland as an international leader in water stewardship. The remarkable achievements, including the implementation of numerous water improvement projects, substantial water savings, and the training of water stewards, are testament to Ireland's unwavering commitment to protect one of its most valuable resources.

See https://www.water.ie/conservation/business/water-stewardship/ for details including how organisations have successfully applied water stewardship to significantly reduce water use.

Climate Toolkit 4 Business

Uisce Éireann has also supported the development of the Government’s Climate Toolkit 4 Business (climatetoolkit4business.gov.ie), an online tool to help SMEs get started on their sustainability journey. The Toolkit provides a tailored set of actions the business can take to improve their environmental impacts, and directs them to the State agencies and supports available to assist them. It includes a carbon calculator, that estimates emissions associated with businesses’ energy, water, travel and waste.