Water is a crucial resource for all communities and ecosystems. Water supply and quality problems can adversely affect the well-being of people, local biodiversity and entire economies. As climate change impacts water availability across the globe, water management is critical to our efforts to protect communities and the environment.
Water is also important to our business, and supply challenges can have a significant impact on how we operate. Water is often a critical input for our cooling equipment, and the majority of our total domestic water consumption is used to maintain the controlled and cooled environment required by our communications network. We continue to implement energy efficiency measures that reduce water consumption.
Water Management Data1
|Total U.S. water consumption (million m3)23||9.65||11.40||10.13||10.15||10.13|
|Water intensity (gallons/$ thousand revenue)||19.02||16.63||15.59||15.87||15.82|
|Water intensity (gallons/individual subscriber)4||12.69||14.12||11.75||11.80||11.73|
Our Actions & Impacts
In 2022, AT&T took the following actions regarding water management:
- We initiated a trial project with a water intelligence company to collect detailed water flow and usage information. The project aims to identify ways to continuously reduce AT&T’s water footprint.
- We continued to use smart water management solutions at key facilities to monitor and manage irrigation systems, saving over 60 million gallons of water since 2018.
- Through our water harvesting system at our Dallas, Texas headquarters, we saved more than 300,000 gallons of water since 2021. The system collects condensation from our air conditioning systems, which is then filtered and used for irrigation, reducing water consumption and lowering our environmental impact.
The following groups are involved in managing our company’s water use:
- Governance & Policy Committee (GPC): The GPC of the AT&T Board of Directors has oversight over all Corporate Responsibility and environmental, social and governance issues, including environmental sustainability and the management of company water use. The Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) reports to the GPC several times a year to provide updates and receive input on the direction of sustainability-related work at AT&T.
- Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Governance Council: The CSR Governance Council is comprised of senior executives and officers responsible for the business areas most closely linked to current CSR priorities and led by our CSO. The council is given updates about AT&T’s water use and efficiency projects.
- Executive Vice President of Network Engineering & Operations (NEO): The Executive Vice President of NEO has responsibility for the resilience of our network, including energy and water use, and oversees the management of climate-related impacts to our operations.
- Vice President of Implementation, Provisioning & Optimization: Located within the NEO organization, the Vice President of Implementation, Provisioning & Optimization leads the Energy Management Team within NEO that oversees water and energy governance.
- Energy Management Team: Since our water consumption is closely tied to energy use, many of our efforts support both water and energy efficiency. Our Energy Management Team within NEO manages AT&T’s energy and water management efforts, as well as their associated budgets. For more information, please visit our Energy Management issue brief.
The vast majority of AT&T sites are fed by municipal water sources, with fewer than 0.03% of AT&T sites drawing water from wells. These sites are metered for total volume of water withdrawal.5 We do not withdraw from brackish or saltwater sources. We track our water use through the following efforts:
- Water Footprint Assessment: We conducted our first companywide water footprint assessment in 2010. Our 2022 analysis shows that our water use is concentrated in a small number of facilities located in high or extremely high water-stressed areas. Our top water-consuming facilities constitute nearly 19% of our overall water consumption.6
- Water Scorecard: The AT&T Water Scorecard tracks water use at our facilities. The scorecards help identify water-saving opportunities using a grading system and pinpoint our highest water-consuming facilities. We use the scorecard to evaluate water risk on an annual basis.
- Trial Projects: We continuously look for water conservation opportunities and regularly test potential strategies through trial projects. For example, in 2022, we initiated a trial project with a water intelligence company to collect detailed water flow and usage information. The project aims to identify ways to continuously reduce AT&T’s water footprint.
AT&T’s continuing efforts to reduce our water usage include:
- Facility Maintenance: We work to reduce water consumption in our facilities by cleaning cooling towers, enhancing proactive maintenance and repairs, utilizing smart irrigation systems, and providing connectivity for monitoring systems to enable remote, real-time water use tracking and management. We use these solutions in our operations and work with customers to enable them to do the same. We also continue to look for ways to consolidate or reduce our leased building space to reduce water and energy demands.
- Energy & Building Management System (EBMS): Leveraging Internet of Things and big data principles, our EBMS minimizes cooling needs and reduces water consumption by helping property management personnel ensure facility equipment is operating optimally. In 2022, AT&T deployed an EBMS at more than 20 additional facilities.
- Cooling Towers: Cooling towers, which use evaporation to begin the mechanical cooling cycle, are a significant opportunity for water savings and financial return. Traditional building cooling systems account for a considerable amount of a building’s daily water use, especially in electronics-laden buildings such as central offices and data centers. AT&T identifies opportunities to implement cooling towers during each location’s preventive maintenance activities.
- Smart Irrigation: We continue to use smart water management solutions at key facilities to remotely monitor and manage irrigation systems, saving over 60 million gallons of water since 2018.
- Water Harvesting: Through our water harvesting system at our Dallas, Texas headquarters, we saved more than 300,000 gallons of water since 2021. The system collects condensation from our air conditioning systems, which is then filtered and used for irrigation, reducing water consumption and lowering our environmental impact.
Our Supply Chain
Any water-related risk that impacts our suppliers’ operations has the potential to affect our business operations. In 2022, we used the third-party Telecommunications Industry Association Sustainability Assessor tool to help suppliers launch and expand resource management programs. We will continue to evaluate the variety of tools available to support and assess suppliers and manage our supply chain impacts. For more information, please visit our Responsible Supply Chain issue brief.
Our Path Forward
We are committed to reducing our water consumption. In 2023 and beyond, we will continue to seek water conservation opportunities and deploy pilot projects to determine viable options for reducing our water usage. We will strive to scale successful projects to our other facilities to drive further efficiencies.
- 2018–2020 data is inclusive of AT&T Communications. 2021 data is inclusive of AT&T Communications and WarnerMedia’s U.S. operations; DIRECTV and Vrio data are not included. 2022 data is inclusive of AT&T Communications. 2018–2022 data does not include water consumption from AT&T sites that use well water, as well water consumption metrics are not tracked. Fewer than 0.03% of AT&T’s sites use well water. Note: In July 2021, we completed a transaction with TPG Capital involving our North America video business—including DIRECTV, AT&T TV and U-verse—to form a new company called DIRECTV. In November 2021, we completed the sale of our Latin America video operations, Vrio, to Grupo Werthein. In April 2022, we completed a transaction to combine our WarnerMedia segment, subject to certain exceptions, with a subsidiary of Discovery Inc.
- Water consumption increased in 2021 compared to 2020 due to employees returning to the office and several water main breaks.
- This figure is equivalent to our water use for domestic operations from municipal sources.
- Intensity is relative to our total number of subscribers (North America wireless, wireline voice and domestic broadband), as identified in our fiscal year 2022 Form 10-K.
- Well water consumption metrics are not tracked.
- Inclusive of AT&T Communications and WarnerMedia’s U.S. operations. Data does not include DIRECTV or Vrio.
Last Updated: 5/24/2023
Related Priority Topics
- Climate Change Governance
- Climate Change Strategy
- GHG Emissions Inventory
- Renewable Energy
- Energy Efficiency Projects
- Energy Management Platform
- EHS Policies
- Assessments & Inspections
- Occupational Health & Safety
- Product Sustainability
- Packaging & Paper
- Refurbishment & Recycling
- Supply Chain Resilience
- Supplier Sustainability
- Supplier Diversity
- Solid Waste
- Hazardous Waste
- Asset Recovery & Sustainability