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Health & Wellness
Water Conservation: World Water Day

From Mark Krajnak, Manager, Corporate Communication, Johnson & Johnson

Around the world, the scarcity of water is increasing. This is especially evident in India, where a few months ago I had the opportunity to visit a Johnson & Johnson Consumer manufacturing facility located in Baddi, in the Himachal Pradesh region of India, nearly at the base of the Himalaya Mountains. While there, I got the chance to meet one of my colleagues, Achal Gupta, who is Manager of Environment, Health & Safety (EH&S) at the facility.

One of the stories in the Johnson & Johnson 2009 Annual Report focuses on Achal, and what he and his colleagues are doing to help conserve water in the region. Achal and the rest of the team work hard at harvesting rain water and runoff from the mountains. The facility also sees to it that every drop of treated water is reused for actions like irrigation and toilet flushing. Their water conservation efforts also extend beyond this facility, as the team collaborates with other companies in the region to share best practices.

It was one thing to hear about what the facility was doing and to see the goals and successes in a Power Point presentation. What I wasn’t prepared for was just how passionate Achal and others were when I spoke to them. I doubt I’ll ever forget speaking with Achal as he led me to a mountain stream where we were going to shoot some photos, and the reverence in this voice when he talked about their water conservation efforts.  He told me that their goal was to figure out how to harvest all the water that fell during the monsoon season, and then what to do with the water as the snow melted off the Himalayas. Then he said something that really surprised me: “The sound of water is like music. You just have to listen to it.”

As a way to illustrate the water conservation story that we were working on for the annual report story, I asked him if he would mind rolling up his pant legs and getting into the stream for the photo. “Oh sure,” he said. “Not a problem.  I do this every chance I get.”

“What do you mean,” I asked.

“Water revitalizes the body. It’s peaceful. It’s very important in Indian culture and being in it helps us to become closer to this earth. When I’m standing in the water, I feel my stress leave my body. I feel good,” he said.

As he was talking he was already stepping into the lake. There was a shepherd woman and her cows nearby.

“You should join me,” Achal said.

I felt honored by that. So I sat down on a rock, removed my boots and my socks, rolled up my pants legs and stepped in. It was about 97 degrees that day and the water felt cool and crisp.

But more so, Achal was right. I did feel better. I did stop to listen. And it made me realize that water is one natural resource that we really can’t live without.

Click here to view Achal’s story.