Global Businesses Fret Over Dwindling Fresh Water

The need for water and the lack of it are threats to whether some businesses can continue to grow, according to a new survey. And some of those threats could become real within a year.

Two-thirds of global businesses polled say they face severe water scarcity risks for their operations, according to report by CDP, a nonprofit group that provides environmental information on businesses and government entities to investors. The risks could have a dramatic impact including loss of revenue, decrease in shareholder value and substantial changes in strategies, said business execs. But a more important finding, said Paul Simpson, chief executive of CDP, is that 22 percent of businesses surveyed said insufficient water resources could limit their growth between now and the next three years. "That figure is very surprising and an increase from previous surveys we've done," explained Simpson on a phone call with CNBC from London. "It shows how serious and immediate the problem of having good water supplies has become to businesses." The analysis by CDP is based on the water management data of 174 companies listed on the FTSE Global 500 Equity Index. Companies include Merck, Unilever and Swedish clothing company H&M.

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-- Mark Koba, CNBC