2017 Sustainability Report

Water & Infrastructure Solutions


The world’s water challenges continue to grow in scale and intensity seemingly by the day. In 2017, one in nine people across the globe lacked access to clean, safe water.

As the demand for water consumption increases at a historic pace, freshwater availability is declining due to pollution growth, climate change, increased urbanization, poor water infrastructure, overuse and other factors. Recently, the Union of Concerned Scientists issued an alarming environmental statistic: Over the past 25 years, the amount of freshwater available worldwide has fallen by 26 percent per capita.

We’re at an inflection point, and there is a smarter way forward.

Xylem is defining the road map to a more water-secure future through the advancement of intelligent, sustainable technologies used in conjunction with our already expansive installed base of products. This is important because it gives us a broader view of the critical areas our clients must address all along the water cycle. With Xylem’s advanced solutions enabled by technology and data analytics, our customers have greater predictability and more precise insights to inform their decisions about how to quickly and more effectively manage their operations, whether they oversee a utility, an industrial process, a commercial or residential building, or agricultural application. This is especially important for utility customers, many of whom work with constrained budgets while striving to improve service to their own customers and protect the environment.

Xylem has devoted significant resources in understanding many of the most critical water industry issues of the day and how our customers are currently managing those challenges. We’re committed to bringing together the right portfolio of solutions, leveraging advanced technologies as well as software and data analytics-enabled services to make a significant impact.

Non-revenue water

The process of transferring clean, treated water through a clean water network for end-users in the residential or commercial space can be problematic for utilities. One of the most common problems is leakage, which is primarily attributable to aging water infrastructure. Water leaking from aging pipes is wasteful and causes inefficiencies in a utility’s ability to provide clean water supply for communities. This is referred to as real water losses. Theft or hacking of the water supply network is another problem, as are inaccurate meters, all of which leads to inaccurate billing. These problems result in apparent losses because the treated water is consumed but not properly accounted or paid for. Our technology and software-enabled solutions can help reduce both real and apparent losses, which can have a significant impact on budget-constrained utilities around the world.

Managing Wastewater and Combined Sewer Systems

Residential households, as well as industrial, commercial and agricultural practices, produce sewage and wastewater that can adversely impact the environment. This wastewater can become a serious issue during storms if wastewater networks do not have the capacity to handle additional stormwater, particularly when a community has a combined sewer system. A combined sewer system collects rainwater runoff, domestic sewage and industrial wastewater all in one pipe. Under normal conditions, all of the wastewater is collected and transported to a wastewater treatment plant for treatment and released to a water body. However, when the volume of this combined stream of wastewater exceeds the capacity of the combined sewer system, such as during heavy rainfall or snowmelt, utilities are often forced to “open the gates,” letting the untreated wastewater run into our rivers, streams and lakes, creating a hazardous environmental situation. Wastewater is also a significant problem in many areas of the world where the population is growing rapidly, and aging facilities operate through old networks in constrained spaces. This is a particular concern for growing cities. Xylem solutions can optimize urban wastewater networks to significantly reduce the risks of environmental damage.

Watershed Management

With only a finite number of watersheds in the world to hold clean drinking water, it is critical to monitor water levels to ensure availability and quality. Traditionally, watershed monitoring has been done manually by workers in boats, which can create safety risks. The process is also highly inefficient as testing can only be done at certain times. Xylem can help customers address both of these challenges through remote monitoring solutions.

Combining our wide range of products with our ever-growing technological platform, Xylem is driving systemic change throughout the entire water cycle – not only to better solve for the evolving needs of our customers, but also to play a significant role in helping to solve one of the globe’s most daunting long-term issues.