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Continuing on with the heightened risk of corporate water use… Companies face more than legal and business headwinds concerning water use – local and regional communities are fighting for their rights. Things are getting very ugly and Hollywood has taken notice. Last month, a movie titled Water Wars premiered at the Dallas International Film Festival (watch the trailer here). One review that explains the movie’s premise:

“Nestled in the ‘Valley of Hidden Waters’ within the West Texas desert, Dell City thrives as a remote oasis. Yet, turmoil strikes as El Paso offers lucrative water deals to neighboring landowners. Dell City’s close-knit community faces division due to new water board rules, alleged to be influenced by billionaires, locking them out of these opportunities. Dell City’s ranchers embark on a legal battle against the influential water board, ultimately reaching the Texas Supreme Court. Water Wars narrates this small-town strife with statewide implications, prompting contemplation on the equitable sharing of life’s most precious resource: water.

If you thought a stressed power grid is the biggest challenge facing Texans in the coming years, you’d be wrong. Having enough water to meet future supply needs, and where to find it, is actually at the top of the list. This pressing issue sets the stage for this David and Goliath story that poses the question – who really owns the water? It features the late Laura Lynch, founder of The Chicks, who’s one of the ranchers at the center of the legal battle between ranchers, farmers and billionaires that went all the way to the Texas Supreme Court.”

I’m not taking a position one way or the other here* but I wouldn’t be surprised to see increased reputational risk, legal challenges and more community activism around water rights in the US as Water Wars (and potentially similar movies in the future) makes its way across the country and the business case for bottled water – including increasing risk related to single use plastics – softens (get it??). Climate risk – which has been the headline ESG/sustainability topic for the past couple years – may push more deeply into water. How is your company planning for a perfect storm of climate change, increasing water rights fights, and changing business pressures with more community opposition?

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*Disclaimer: The late Laura Lynch and the Lynch family of Dell City are long time personal friends of mine and I visit Dell City occasionally.

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The Editor

Lawrence Heim has been practicing in the field of ESG management for almost 40 years. He began his career as a legal assistant in the Environmental Practice of Vinson & Elkins working for a partner who is nationally recognized and an adjunct professor of environmental law at the University of Texas Law School. He moved into technical environmental consulting with ENSR Consulting & Engineering at the height of environmental regulatory development, working across a range of disciplines. He was one… View Profile