That was the view of SAB Miller sustainable development chief Andy Wales, as he urged the industry to adopt a local focus rather than simply deal in statistics over water use.
Speaking at a PwC biodiversity briefing in London, Wales said: "Big financial numbers are attached so demonstrating the business case for carbon reduction is straightforward but water has less of a specific payback."
Suppliers should understand "it may be difficult to grow business in the future in a particular place because no more water is available".
SAB Miller vowed to cut water use by 25% per hectolitre of beer by 2015 on 2008 levels. Last year, it set up Water Futures with WWF to promote better global water management.