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Coming Soon: 'Sustainable Water' Certification

ISTANBUL (AFP) - A couple of years from now, beer, cola, rice, breakfast cereal, cotton T-shirts and many other goods may come with a new logo: a label which says the water used to make this product came from a sustainable source.

The scheme, unveiled at the World Water Forum in Istanbul on Tuesday, seeks to make a "Water Stewardship" tag as successful as Forest Stewardship Certification, a fast-growing system that combats illegal or unsustainable logging.

"That there is a crisis in water is a given, and that we need to address it is a given. That's why there's so much momentum behind developing a global standard," said Michael Spencer, director of the Water Stewardship Initiative of Australia, part of the project.

The idea of water certification would have been considered bizarre only a few years ago.

Water has been traditionally viewed as a resource that, because it tumbles out of the sky and is recycled by nature, is as free as the air we breathe.

But water stress or droughts now grip highly-populated countries in a swathe from Morocco to China, and the breadbaskets of Australia and the United States are often dangerously parched.

Some rivers, exhausted by overuse, now dry up before they reach the sea and ancient aquifers are being wound down at massive rates, un-replenished by rainwater. Irresponsible irrigation and pollution are major problems.

As a result, said Spencer, perception of water has changed.

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