Waterplan tracks water risks and sustainable solutions for climate-conscious businesses – TechCrunch


Fresh water is one of the many resources increasingly affected by climate change, which in turn affects businesses that depend on this abundant but still limited natural resource. Body of water, armed with a $ 2.6 million funding round, seeks to analyze and track not only how a company’s water use affects the local environment, but also the mitigation measures that could help keep things moist when the seemingly inevitable crisis arrives.

Jose Galindo, Nicolas Wertheimer and their colleagues Matias Comercio and Olivia Cesio founded Waterplan after working in and around the environmental sector for years. They realized that while there has been a lot of action, data and planning around carbon emissions, comparatively little has been done around water risk, as it has not yet become as visible as a threat. They started the business and took it through Y Combinator’s Summer 2021 cohort.

“More and more companies are disclosing and taking action on water security and other water-related issues, but a SaaS platform is needed to quantify and manage water-related risks,” Galindo said. “The companies have had a reactive approach, but since these [climate-related] disruptions are more and more frequent, there is an opportunity for them to foresee this kind of thing and to act proactively. Climate change is here, and it will accelerate.

Of course, it is not a question of simple advice like “don’t let the tap run”, but of efforts on an industrial scale like replenishing the water table, major municipal works, and so on. Waterplan first distills satellite image data, which shows the canopy, water bodies and other important indicators as objective measurements with plenty of context – years of imagery and analysis have established trends clear. This is combined with direct measurements carried out by the water and environment authorities who closely monitor these resources.

So (to make up an example) a factory that processes coffee beans could use 10,000 gallons per hour of water from a nearby river. The analysis could show that in 5-10 years it will no longer be a sustainable rate and cause downstream problems, as there is before and after data showing the effects of the plant. These problems would end up costing the company $ 40 million over that period. However, if local efforts to restore forests and expand tree canopy are doubled at a cost of $ 10 million, it will improve water retention and slow erosion, resulting in a net increase in the availability of water. water – and avoid that $ 40 million risk.

Actual reports are obviously more detailed and very specific to a given location and company, but below you can see what types of scales they operate on and what kind of data they track.

This type of analysis and advice is by no means unprecedented, but it is the sort of thing that tends to be done once or more times a year (if that) by an environmental consultant. Waterplan’s approach is to automate this as much as possible, which makes it a big data problem where factors can be connected and things like risk and mitigation strategies come on the other end. Of course, it’s not that simple, but with the speed at which markets and natural phenomena change these days, it needs to be done faster and in a more focused and actionable way, the founders explained.

“It costs more to be reactive than proactive,” Wertheimer said. “We have to make it a conscious effort. “

Galindo highlighted the fragmentation and incompatibility of much of the data regarding local water supplies, restoration efforts and other factors. It takes a lot of work to rectify these disparate sources and combine their data into a consistent map and forecast.

From left to right, co-founders Matias Comercio, Nico Wertheimer, Jose Ignacio Galindo and Olivia Cesio are seated on a stage. Image credits: Body of water

“It is important for companies to be able to understand what is happening in different climate scenarios and locations, and to see it in a continually updated and detailed way,” said Galindo. “Water is cheap and plentiful today, but it won’t always be; there will be a 30% gap in 2030 between supply and demand. We believe that the pressure will appear over the next 10 years.

Those with better data and a history of taking proactive action will be in a better position as the resource declines or the competition for something like water credits intensifies. Even now, there is a severe shortage of carbon credits and other such resources and investments, which means that even companies that want to spend hundreds of millions may not have the opportunity. (Carbon futures are a potential solution to this problem, and a similar market may emerge for resources like freshwater.)

Getting into what could be an important part of the climate monitoring ecosystem early in the next decade seems to have been deemed a fairly good bet by Waterplan’s first group of investors (after Y Combinator). The $ 2.6 million round was led by Giant Ventures and a rather star-studded list of individual entrants: “The family of Sir Richard Branson, Monzo founder Tom Blomfield, Unity founders David Helgason and Nicholas Francis, NFL legend Joe Montana, the former head of Microsoft’s world water program. Paul Fleming, MCJ collective, Climate Capital, Newtopia, Jetstream and Mixpanel founder Tim Treffen.

The short-term plan, said Wertheimer and Galindo, is primarily to accelerate development; they need engineers and hydrologists to handle the complex work of building the platform so that it can continue to produce the types of information desired by various industries and environments.

While the data and analysis they produce would likely be welcomed by governments and NGOs, the stakeholders most likely to make change (and, it must be said, pay for the service) are businesses. private sector aimed at reducing risk or improving their local position. But once the pull is done and the product and methods defined, the founders (who earlier underlined their involvement in water access and NGOs) hope to make it more widely available.

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