SABMiller, one of the world's leading brewers, has embarked upon an innovative watershed management project near its Rochees brewery in India.
The Rochees brewery is located in the Alwar district of Rajasthan, an area which is at risk of significant water stress. The project is one of the steps being taken by SABMiller India to mitigate the potential long term water scarcity risks for the community and the brewery operations.
The project primarily aims to recharge the ground source of water by capturing rain water which would normally simply evaporate or run off. The initiative covers about thirty villages in a radius of seven km around the brewery and is currently the largest in this region. Three recharge structures have been constructed in a wasteland area to allow the rain to naturally soak back into the water table, thereby recharging it. It is anticipated that these structures will replace approximately three hundred million litres of water a year - the same amount as that extracted by the brewery over the same period. Work is now taking place to identify more sites which support natural recharge and where such structures can potentially be constructed.
Taking a multi-stakeholder approach the project is involving industries and farmers and is being conducted in collaboration with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and its partner organisation the Advanced Centre for Water Resources Development and Management. It also demonstrates best practices in resource management by the surrounding industries and farming communities.
Ari Mervis, Managing Director of SABMiller Asia, said: "Our ten sustainable development priorities have identified those environmental and societal changes that have the potential to impact on our business. Water scarcity in any region is a shared risk and therefore we believe that we must take a multi-stakeholder, value chain approach to ensure that the responsibility is also shared."
At the very beginning of the Rochees project, studies established an outline water balance for the region so that a substantial engagement with the community could be based on empirical findings.