Rather than develop this pristine remnant of coastal prairie, vast enough to house more than 300 football fields, the Dr Pepper Snapple Group is investing hundreds of thousands of dollars to ensure it remains untouched.WEST COLUMBIA, Texas (AP) — Fifty miles outside the nation's fourth-largest city is a massive field of waist-high grass, buzzing bees and palm-size butterflies, just waiting to be ripped up by an entrepreneur.
The project is part of the company's $1.1 million investment in the Nature Conservancy, designed to benefit five Texas watersheds — including Nash Prairie outside of Houston — from which its bottling plants draw water. The money will go toward preservation work, such as reseeding the grass, to restore and expand an ecosystem that once covered 6 million acres from southwestern Louisiana through Texas.
The projects will improve water quality and quantity by preserving the prairies' sponge-like attributes. But for Dr Pepper and other beverage companies engaged in similar work, the impetus is their bottom line — conserving water guarantees long-term access to the most crucial ingredient in their products.
"If there's not fresh water, there's no business — it's just that simple," said Laura Huffman, state director of the Nature Conservancy in Texas. "It is their number one infrastructure concern. ... Water tops the list, above roads, above energy, above all else, because if you don't get water right, you're not making anything."
The biggest players — from Coca-Cola and Pepsi Co. to Miller and MolsonCoors — as well as smaller, regional beverage companies list water as a risk in long-term plans. In 2006, 18 companies created an alliance called the Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable to tackle water, energy and other issues that could affect the industry's growth. There is no total available for how much has been invested in water conservation projects in the past five years, but experts believe it's more than $500 million dollars. Read full article