Water is important to our business, and water supply challenges can have a significant impact on how we operate. We have a responsibility to actively manage and reduce our water use wherever possible.
1 2017–2018 data inclusive of AT&T Communications, U.S. operations. 2019–2021 data inclusive of AT&T Communications and WarnerMedia’s U.S. operations. DIRECTV and Vrio data are not included. 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.
2 2017–2021 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.
3 Water consumption increased in 2021 compared to 2020 due to employees returning to the office and several water main breaks.
4 This figure is equivalent to our water use for domestic operations, freshwater consumption and withdrawals from municipal sources.
5 Intensity is relative to our total number of subscribers (North America wireless, wireline voice and domestic broadband), as identified in our fiscal year 2021 Form 10-K.
TOPIC: Water Use in Stressed Areas
2030 Goal: Achieve 15% reduction (2019 base year) in U.S. water use in areas of high and extremely high water stress.
AT&T continues to pursue our 15% water use reduction target in areas designated as high or extremely high water stressed environments. Progress is ongoing, and AT&T is currently reviewing historical water consumption data to ensure its quality. We will report progress toward our water goal upon completion of that work.
The Governance and Policy Committee (GPC) of the AT&T Board of Directors has oversight over all Corporate Responsibility and ESG issues, including environmental sustainability and the management of company water use. The Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) reports to the board committee several times a year to provide updates and receive input on the direction of sustainability-related work at AT&T.
We provide information about water use and efficiency projects to AT&T’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Governance Council, composed of senior executives and officers responsible for the business areas most linked to current CSR priorities. This council is led by our CSO, who works with the GPC to achieve a wide range of specific, sustainable business objectives. Our President of Network Engineering and Operations has responsibility for the resilience of our network and real estate assets, including energy and water use, and oversees the management of climate-related impacts to our operations. This includes our commitments to renewable energy, network disaster response and business continuity planning. The Vice President – Implementation, Provisioning & Optimization within the Network Engineering & Operations (NEO) organization leads the team that oversees the efforts listed below.
Since our water consumption is closely tied with energy use, many of our efforts support both water and energy efficiency. The following teams manage AT&T’s network resource optimization, network capacity engineering, in-network operational support, and energy and water management efforts, as well as their associated budgets.
- The Energy Team oversees a broad range of energy and water programs, including deregulated purchase strategies, regulated rate optimization, authorship of corporate energy and infrastructure policy directives, and development and implementation of scaled energy efficiency and energy conservation measures.
- The NEO team optimizes our network by identifying opportunities for energy-efficient designs and components that result in energy and water consumption reductions. This team also optimizes our networks by identifying opportunities for asset decommission, including managing how we release and power down our legacy data platforms, legacy regional equipment and end-office switching equipment. By right-sizing network assets, we lower our energy demands.
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. AT&T sites fed by municipal water sources are metered for total volume of water withdrawal, while well water consumption is not tracked. We do not withdraw from brackish or saltwater sources.
The AT&T Water Scorecard, modeled after our Energy Scorecard, tracks water use at our facilities and helps identify water-saving opportunities using a grading system. We use the scorecard to evaluate water risk on an annual basis.
Through our Water Scorecards, we evaluated our top 126 water-consuming sites in high or extremely high water stressed areas across the U.S. Cooling towers, which use evaporation to begin the mechanical cooling cycle, are a significant opportunity for water savings and financial return. These pieces of equipment, which help chill large buildings, account for a considerable amount of a building’s daily water use, especially in electronics-laden buildings such as central offices and data centers.
Water Conservation Efforts
AT&T’s continuing efforts to reduce water consumption also include cleaning cooling towers and enhancing proactive maintenance and repairs, as well as utilizing smart irrigation systems. In 2021, we cleaned 8 cooling towers, which saved 4,198 gallons. Regular cleaning results in more efficient water use, prolongs equipment life and reduces harmful pathogens. We also provide connectivity for monitoring systems to enable remote, real-time tracking and management of water use. We use these solutions in our own operations and work with customers to enable them to do the same.
We work with HydroPoint, a smart water management solutions provider, to remotely monitor and manage irrigation systems in real time. With products that retrofit existing systems, HydroPoint offers a cost-effective solution that reduces water consumption an average of 40%. In 2017, AT&T installed HydroPoint solutions at key facilities. And in 2021, we saved 74 million gallons of water at 133 locations through this program.
In 2021, AT&T deployed an Energy & Building Management System (EBMS) to support energy and water efficiency at 53 additional facilities for a total of 1,030 sites deployed. Leveraging Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data principles, our EBMS is designed to help property management personnel ensure facility equipment is operating optimally. This initiative minimizes mechanical cooling needs and reduces water consumption.
We incorporated water conservation strategies into our Dallas, Texas headquarters Discovery District, including a smart irrigation and rainwater collection system. Additionally, our headquarters building has a water harvesting system, which collects condensate from our air conditioning systems. This water is then filtered and stored in tanks to use for irrigation. In 2021, this water harvesting system saved over 664,700 gallons of water. These water savings efforts helped the district earn SITES’ Silver Certification, which recognizes sustainable and resilient land development projects.
Any water-related risk that impacts our suppliers’ operations has the potential to affect our future business operations. We use the third-party Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) Sustainability Assessor tool to help suppliers launch and expand programs to efficiently use water and other resources. For more information on all our efforts with suppliers, please see our Responsible Supply Chain issue brief.