Xylem called on the public and private sectors to work together to improve the collection and sharing of water data.
Despite dramatic improvements in big data collection and the application of that intelligence, the amount of on-the-ground data about water has been declining over the past 40 years. Since 1979, the number of stations reporting streamflow data has plummeted 40 percent, while the number of those reporting precipitation data is down by 30 percent.
The theme of this year’s World Water Day, ‘Nature for Water’ explored how nature-based solutions such as planting new forests, reconnecting rivers to floodplains, and restoring wetlands, will help rebalance the water cycle. Enhanced water data collection will enable communities to maximize the potential of existing nature-based solutions and inform the development of new sustainable water resource management approaches.
Patrick Decker, Xylem President and CEO, said, “The need for data about our natural water resources has never been greater as leaders address rising water demand from population growth and industrial development as well as increasingly volatile climate patterns. The lack of robust data about our water resources is a troubling irony in a world awash with data. But working together, we can reverse this growing data drought. As a global community, we can leverage smart technologies and advanced communications networks to better monitor and understand our precious water resources. We stand ready to partner with leaders and utility operators to help enable their efforts to manage these resources and ultimately, reduce the capital burden on our communities.”
Xylem’s Value of Water Information whitepaper outlines several steps to help overcome the global water data drought including: assessing current water monitoring networks, committing sufficient resources for public water data collection, exploring new models for data sharing, and automating reporting with real-time monitoring technologies. The paper also highlights a review of economic studies demonstrating that hydrologic information is a sound and attractive investment, providing at least a 4-to-1 return with direct and indirect benefits to private actors and the general public.
As part of Xylem’s World Water Day initiatives, its employees are among 1.5 million citizens from 143 countries taking part in the EarthEcho Water Challenge, helping to improve water data collection in their own communities. Xylem colleagues lead water education and water monitoring events with students in schools and local youth organizations worldwide on World Water Day 2018. These events introduced young people to their local water resources and allow them to contribute to a broader understanding of water quality worldwide.
Xylem Watermark, the Company’s social investment initiative, is continuing its support for Puerto Rico’s rebuilding efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria by collaborating with Planet Water Foundation on Project 24, a challenge to build 24 water filtration towers in 24 hours. Xylem Watermark is sponsoring a tower build in Puerto Rico, which follows the construction of 10 water towers last November by Xylem colleagues and Planet Water. In addition, Xylem Watermark is sponsoring tower builds in Cambodia, India, Indonesia and the Philippines, with local Xylem colleagues participating in the Philippines and India projects.
Xylem Watermark kicked off its second annual Make Your Mark 30-Day Challenge. The Challenge is a month-long event during which employees are encouraged to participate in activities that help raise awareness about their local communities’ water and environmental issues and contribute to resolving them.