The COVID-19 pandemic has spotlighted the critical role that essential services workers play in our society – and the role that communities can play in supporting them during these extraordinary times. As a water technology provider committed to creating both economic and social value, Xylem has donated and delivered more than 300,000 pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) to frontline workers in 2020, working alongside our partners. The personal protective equipment has gone to healthcare facilities and to water utility operators working to keep critical services flowing in local communities.
“Water is always essential to community health and resilience. Its importance has only grown during the pandemic,” said Joe Vesey, Xylem’s Chief Marketing Officer and Chair of Xylem Watermark, the company’s corporate social responsibility program, which has overseen the effort. “This PPE initiative is one part of our efforts to support the health and safety of essential water operators as they serve their communities. A safe working environment is a fundamental part of providing safe water and sanitation to our communities. By combining our efforts with innovative partners like the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) and 120Water, and with hard-working local utilities, we are one step closer to solving water in those communities.”
In March, Xylem began re-purposing some internal manufacturing capacity, including three-dimensional printing and injection moulding, to develop protective face shields for essential workers. Throughout the year, Xylem collaborated with distribution partners to deliver 150,000 shields across the U.S., Europe and Latin America.
A survey by RCAP revealed unique challenges faced by rural and tribal water and wastewater systems amid the pandemic. One of the biggest concerns cited was the health of system operators and the ability to maintain their systems, particularly due to the lack of access to PPE.
Starting in July, Xylem partnered with RCAP and 120Water to help address this urgent issue. Leveraging our global supply chains, Xylem procured 150,000 N95 masks. More than 100,000 were distributed to utilities in 46 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to enable frontline workers to more safely maintain their communities’ access to water and sanitation throughout the crisis. Additionally, RCAP and 120Water received 10,000 of the face shields manufactured by Xylem.
The other 45,000 N95 masks were donated to NYWARN (the New York Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network) and were initially delivered to the Wayne County Water & Sewer Authority to distribute to requesting water and wastewater treatment facilities across the state of New York.
Xylem suppliers and distributors have played a vital role in this effort. Polymer Solutions provided the resin without charge and Protolabs provided the moulding and tool build with expedited delivery to begin production. Xylem distributor partners – including Wallace Eannace Associates in New York and New Jersey, James M. Pleasants Co. in North Carolina, and many more – worked to allocate the shields to frontline healthcare, water and wastewater personnel in their local communities.