The United States Army has unveiled its first water “bootprint”—an analysis of its indirect water usage within the supply chain. The analysis, which was performed by LMI, is the largest ever done, and a major step towards a more comprehensive understanding of the Army’s water management challenges.
The information is critical to identifying key issues for the Army’s leadership to focus on to ensure that they have enough water of suitable quality and an uninterrupted supply chain for the foreseeable future.
“No one has looked at more data than we did for this report,” LMI project leader Francis J. Reilly, Jr., said.
A water bootprint is similar to a carbon footprint study in that it involves calculating all direct and indirect (“embedded”) sources and uses of water (whether consumed or withdrawn) by an organization. For this analysis, LMI’s team focused only on the indirect component—water used to supply the goods and services procured through the Army supply chain—in order to fill a critical gap in the Army’s understanding of their water usage. LMI achieved this by developing and applying water-use factors to known quantities of purchased fuels and utility energy, along with applying a high-level economic model that estimates water use per million dollars of activity by market sector to any remaining supply chain components. The bootprint estimated water usage by all Army components, including the Corps of Engineers’ civil works and military construction.
LMI performed the analysis for the Army Environmental Policy Institute and the results will help the Army make supply-side policy decisions before water availability issues can adversely affect critical supplies and services. The Army undertook this water bootprint study as an initial step toward quantifying the amount of water used by suppliers to produce the goods and services it procures through the supply chain. Availability concerns can hinder operational readiness and training—especially if water-intensive production lines suffered unforeseen water shortages.