2017 Sustainability Report


Watermark Employee Volunteerism

In 2017, we made significant progress toward our three-year pledge to log at least 100,000 employee volunteer hours for water-related activities through 2018. In 2017, we logged another 35,000+ hours to bring us to 56,000+ hours in the first two years of our pledge. The hours logged in 2017 represent a 70 percent increase over 2016. Through this effort, we’re encouraging our colleagues to roll up their sleeves and help solve water within their own communities.

We’re increasing engagement by starting at the top of our organization, with each of our senior leaders leading teams in a Watermark activity. To make it easy for employees to get involved, we have organized activities such as Walks for Water, water source cleanups and community education programs. Employees can also propose or participate in projects on their own. Through an online portal, MyWatermark, Xylem employees can connect with colleagues, sign up for projects and track their volunteer time.

Xylem volunteer “counselors” conducted lessons on the water cycle, water conservation, water pollution and water consumption, as well as leading a water sampling and analysis exercise.

Disaster Relief Efforts

The destructive forces of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, as well as the severe flooding in South Asia, were some of worst natural weather disasters on record, impacting millions across the world and creating billions of dollars in damages. Through our Watermark program, Xylem was at the ready to provide help. Our actions included monetary contributions from the company, employee donations matched by the company and a number of employee volunteer activities in the affected areas.

Response to Hurricane Maria

In the aftermath of the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria, the strongest storm seen by Puerto Rico in 85 years, access to clean water was one of the most urgent challenges faced by Puerto Ricans. Without a safe drinking water supply, families resorted to drawing water from wells polluted with untreated water or from streams contaminated with sewage. In partnership with Planet Water Foundation, Xylem sent a team of volunteers to Puerto Rico to build water-filtration towers in some of the most damaged places on the island – technology that would bring safe, clean water to communities most in need. In all, the team from Xylem built 12 water towers, each tower providing 10,000 liters of clean drinking water, enough to sustain 1,000 individuals daily.

As the towers went up, a Puerto Rican 12th-grade student helped our volunteers understand just how important this work was and is to the island, telling the team: “We’ve been watching the river flow by, and now you have given us the gift of Mother Nature for free and have made it sustainable. You guys are angels.” Often, it’s the giving back to those who need it most that makes the greatest impact on us at Xylem. Hurricane Maria and the resilient citizens of Puerto Rico helped us remember that in 2017.

Response to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma

Hurricane Harvey flooded the Greater Houston area in the fall of 2017 and was followed shortly thereafter by Hurricane Irma, which caused devastation in the Caribbean islands and severe damage in the southeastern U.S. In addition to monetary contributions to both The American Red Cross and Mercy Corps to support those organizations’ on-site efforts, Xylem sent approximately 100 employees from other parts of the U.S. to spend a week of paid volunteer time in the affected areas. Our colleagues worked with local non-profit agencies on several rebuilding projects. As part of these local efforts, Xylem volunteers built five houses through Habit for Humanity for families impacted by the hurricane. Xylem also developed a mentoring relationship with YesPrep, which is an open-enrollment public charter school system serving students in grades six through 12 in Houston’s most underserved communities. Xylem provided a financial contribution to help the students who were directly impacted by the hurricane, and, with the support of our colleagues located in Houston, we launched a water education program that will be used on a continuing basis by the science department.

Response to Extreme Flooding in South Asia

A severe monsoon flooded much of South Asia, displacing or impacting millions in India, Nepal and Bangladesh. Xylem donated $100,000 and matched employee donations 2-for-1 to Mercy Corps and its local partners’ efforts to implement water, sanitation and hygiene initiatives on the ground. Xylem also provided funds to the Planet Water Foundation for the construction of two aqua towers near a disaster relief center in Maharashtra, India, where thousands sought refuge from the floods.


Our engagement efforts paid off in a big way during our Global Month of Service, held in October. Throughout the month, employees helped advance our mission of solving water through donations, service projects and grants to community organizations.

Global Events
in Community Grants
(bringing the 2017 total to $22,000)
Hours Volunteered

Make Your Mark

For the second consecutive year, Xylem launched the “Make Your Mark 30-day Challenge” on World Water Day, which continued through Earth Day. During this time, employees helped advance our mission of solving water through donations, volunteering in local projects and supporting community organizations alongside our nonprofit partners. Some of the volunteer efforts held around the world included:

  • Planet Water Foundation’s Project24, during which Xylem employees helped to build 10,000-gallon aqua towers in Cambodia, Colombia, India, Indonesia and the Philippines to provide clean water to schools that previously did not have access to safe water and sanitation.
  • At the Xylem Innovation Official Opening in Montecchio, Italy, Xylem Watermark volunteers answered questions, collected donations and raised awareness of Xylem Watermark and water-related issues. The event included a presentation on Watermark’s goals and future initiatives being planned for the program.
  • As part of Xylem’s Reward and Recognition program, five volunteers traveled to remote communities in India with our nonprofit partner, Water For People, to map water resources, assess and monitor water and sanitation solutions, and to provide WASH education to communities in need. In addition, five volunteers spent a week in Cambodia constructing Planet Water’s AquaTowers and deploying water, sanitation and hygiene programs. Finally, five volunteers traveled to Miami, Florida, to work with young people on educational and water monitoring programs, and to participate in the University of Miami’s Citizen Science initiative.
  • Xylem Watermark volunteers from Yellow Springs, Ohio, joined Little Miami River Kleeners in the annual Fall Little Miami River Kleen Sweep. Volunteers removed 20 tires and countless bags of garbage from the river.
  • In Cape Town, South Africa, a group of 60 Xylem employees, region consultants and distributors joined together to visit Saint Joseph’s School for children with special educational needs. The group educated students on the importance of clean water, and worked with the children to build self-sustainable farming systems, which provide food with a low usage of water.
  • Twenty Xylem volunteers partnered with Keep Brazos Beautiful (KBB), an organization in Texas that works to educate and engage citizens on the importance of keeping the community clean, green and beautiful. KBB hosted the “Texas Trash-Off,” providing volunteers with an opportunity to clean up trash near local creeks that flow into the Navasota River, which feeds into the Gulf of Mexico.