As the world faces an ever-growing water crisis, it’s increasingly important to protect our planet’s limited supply. Water is a precious resource, but we often use it unthinkingly. Scarcity is affecting water basins worldwide with implications for the environment, biodiversity and wider society.

To create a sustainable future for our communities, now more than ever, we must use less water than is naturally available and replenish water-stressed regions that are critically low on resources. This is the focus of a new corporate water positivity movement, where water positive businesses pledge to return more water to the watersheds where they work than they take out.

A raft of some of the world’s biggest and household name brands like Microsoft, AB InBev, Procter and Gamble, and Pepsico have made water positive pledges in recent years.

In this blog we look at how organisations are making the most of water and building their own water positive strategies.

What Does it Mean to Be ‘Water Positive’?

The term ‘water positivity’ describes a corporate movement which has been gaining traction in the world of sustainability and conservation for a number of years. Water positive businesses work in unconventional partnerships with other organisations and society at large.

The influential water strategist and author Will Sarni coined the phrase ‘catalytic communities’ to describe these types of partnerships. Their aim is to create a healthy watershed by ensuring that more water goes back into the river basin from where it was taken.

The water positive movement recognises that being mindful of how we use and manage water resources involves taking an active stance. The key concept in water positivity is that action is localised, immediate and quantifiable. This means that the benefits are felt in the very same watersheds that suffer the impacts.

Water positivity versus water neutrality

It’s important to note the difference between water positivity and water neutrality, two concepts often confused with each other.

Water neutrality is defined as reducing your water footprint as far as is practicably possible, with the remaining impacts then offset. This might include operational water efficiency and working to reduce water usage in supply chains, for example.

But water positivity goes much further than just preventing water shortages. By using new technology, its aim is to consciously return more water to a local river basin than is taken out. The goal is not just to prevent source depletion and maintain the status quo but to immediately improve water equity so that all sectors of human society get continued access to the freshwater resources they need without destroying the natural environment.

Why is this important?

Water scarcity is a major problem facing many countries around the world due to climate change, population growth, and over-consumption. Some of the world’s most water stressed regions include places you may not expect, like parts of the US, South America and South Africa.

For instance, the Colorado river basin supplies nearly 40 million people across the west of the United States with drinking water and irrigates around five million acres of farmland but is facing a crisis following years of drought and over consumption. In fact, according to UN-Water 2.3 billion people live in water stressed areas.

By shifting from a water neutral to a water positive approach, businesses can show that they are taking proactive steps towards sustainability by creating an abundance of clean water for their local ecosystems. While individual water positive goals will differ according to local need, addressing the issue is a productive step.

Solving water loss, the FIDO way.

How to make the most of water

Less than three per cent of the world’s water is available as freshwater. This finite amount is all we have available to sustain freshwater habitats, human health and economic growth into the future. Making the most of water means understanding how to use this limited resource more sustainably and equitably. It includes everything from sourcing, transporting and treating water to how and what we use it for.

Here are some examples and opportunities:

  • Agriculture: Over 70 per cent of available freshwater is used in agriculture, where, according to some estimates, as little as 10 per cent is used efficiently. Opportunities to make better use of water include choosing climactic-appropriate crops, improving irrigation systems, introducing water replenishment projects and creating incentives for water conservation.


  • Leakage: An estimated 30% of the world’s treated water is lost from pipeline networks before it reaches the user; most of it through leakage. Tackling leakage using new technologies would make an impact not only on water availability, but would also also reduce carbon and the use of other chemicals used in its transport and treatment.


  • Industry: The industrial sector uses vast amounts of water for processes such as cooling and manufacture. Better maintenance, monitoring, process efficiency and schemes to reuse and recycle wastewater could all reduce the need to draw water from the environment for industrial uses while maintaining economic productivity.
Also read:
RWA: FIDO AI detects a 100GPM leak on a CIP water main in rural Connecticut

How unconventional partnerships deliver water equity

By moving beyond water usage in their own operations, truly water positive corporations make a tangible difference to water shortage in the wider watershed. This goes further than water efficiency, conservation and replenishment and aims instead to deliver water equity. Water equity is when all stakeholders have equal access to the economic, social, and environmental benefits of water through safe, clean, affordable drinking water and wastewater services, as well as protection from risks like drought and flooding. Water equity is a cornerstone of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG6).

Understanding the natural and human interactions at play within a watershed is complex. Therefore, developing a successful local water positive plan may incorporate multiple disciplines including ecology, engineering, economics, law and policy.

As successful national and global businesses, many large corporations have access to skills, resources and change expertise that many small and regulated utilities, NGOs or voluntary organisaitons do not. By bringing people together within a watershed, water positive corporations can build unconventional partnerships with the common goal of increasing water availability for all.

Unconventional partnerships based around water positivity are sometimes referred to as catalytic communities. They are usually cross-sector groups where private sector corporations and entrepreneurs collaborate strategically with public and civic society bodies as a galvanising force. Involving entrepreneurs is crucial, especially where there is an opportunity or need to disrupt ingrained practices or mindsets which could be a barrier to progress.

A key feature of catalytic communities is that impacts are immediate, localised, accountable and quantifiable. There is often a focus on adopting technological advances at scale in a way that traditional organisations working alone would struggle to do. Thus de-risking deployment through shared endeavour.

These catalytic communities go much further than a simple alignment of individual actions. They involve a fundamental shift in understanding between engaged stakeholders at all levels and collaborative co-creation to deliver improved outcomes for society as a whole.

Solving water loss, the FIDO way.

FIDO Tech enables positive water strategies

FIDO helps clients to develop positive plans that restore and protect the environment while delivering meaningful returns. Through our FIDO Plus service, we partner with corporations which are looking to meet water replenishment goals in an immediate, quantifiable and localised way.

We are working with Microsoft and Thames Water on a first-of-a-kind collaboration to address water leakage in London’s public water network.

Fixing water losses positively impacts water availability with immediate impact across local watersheds in a quantifiable way. As well as making more water available to consumers and easing pressure on water sources, it also means less water needs treating, reducing a utility’s energy footprint.

FIDO is one of the sector’s most sophisticated AI solutions, with the unique distinction of being able to identify leaks and, most importantly, rank them by size, even in the noisiest networks, and regardless of pipe material or condition. The Microsoft partnership expands FIDO’s existing coverage across the Thames Water network, giving visibility on an additional 350km of water pipe network.

Microsoft’s commitment to working collectively with partners and customers to protect freshwater is helping drive digital transformation for people, organisations and industries around the world.
FIDO has already seen multiple successes across the UK. The company has been working with Thames Water since 2021 and has partnered with Northumbrian Water to reduce leakage by 37% across 15 assigned district metering areas (DMAs).

Also read:
Microsoft and FIDO Tech launch collaboration to drive down water losses

More about FIDO Plus

FIDO Plus is a positive approach to water stewardship, designed to partner with corporations looking to meet water replenishment goals and help organisations build catalytic communities around the issue of water scarcity.

We align stakeholders across watersheds to immediately improve water availability by using the sector’s most sophisticated AI.

After establishing a water loss baseline with a local utility, FIDO’s unique, actionable AI is deployed across community water networks to find the biggest leaks for priority repair. We deliver quantitative, transparent and auditable results for the utility and corporations, demonstrating immediate impact.