A wave of recent severe weather events and natural disasters has devastated communities across the globe, causing major loss of life, and leaving hundreds of thousands of people without basic needs like shelter and clean water. These tragedies are on the rise due to climate change – their impact intensified by pressures like population growth and coastal development.
With the growing risks posed by natural disasters, disaster mitigation programs are gaining more traction, and the private sector has an essential role to play in their development. Companies like Xylem are working to help communities anticipate, prepare for, respond to and recover from natural disasters, and to ensure continuity of basic services, no matter the circumstances.
Disaster risk reduction programs encompass activities that reduce exposure to hazards, lessen vulnerability of people and property, facilitate intelligent land management and enhance emergency preparedness. From managing floodplains and engineering barriers along river banks, to building bridges for flood evacuation routes, disaster mitigation can save the greatest number of lives by addressing water-related issues before severe weather strikes.
As municipalities learn from past events, Xylem works with urban planners and community leaders to build both the physical and social infrastructure needed to reduce future risk exposure and create more resilient cities. Physical infrastructure includes solutions ranging from backup dewatering stations that can survive power outages to stormwater pumping solutions that can reduce overflows. Social infrastructure comprises contingency planning, capacity-building and training that can help communities mobilize in the event of disasters.
Well in advance of catastrophic weather events, Xylem works with cities, counties and companies to create contingency plans that map out emergency response strategies and identify the required temporary pumping equipment to respond to natural disasters.
“By putting contingency plans in place, we can rapidly mobilize pumps where they need to be to support even the worst emergency situation and help our customers ensure they can best protect water infrastructure for the communities they serve,” said Mike Delzingaro, vice president of Sales and Branch Operations for Xylem Rental Solutions.
And by involving the public in resiliency planning and decisions, communities are empowered to better withstand unexpected climate events that affect their livelihoods and access to water.
Disaster Response and Recovery
When storms do strike, flooding can be immediate, disruptive, destructive and even fatal. To cope with the onset of water pouring into streets, homes, commercial buildings and subway tunnels, cities need resilient drainage systems powered by reliable and durable pumps. They also need 24/7 drainage assistance to dewater flooded areas quickly during and after the crisis.
“The dual challenge of delivering clean water to citizens and removing wastewater safely become top priorities for our customers when disasters strike,” said Delzingaro.
Xylem offers innovative technologies and business models designed to help cities control the flow of water through drainage networks and remove stormwater from flooded areas. Xylem’s monitoring and control technologies for instance, provide real-time situational visibility and control of wastewater infrastructure, enabling city managers to manage capacity through lift station networks and lower the probability of dangerous sewer overflows.
Xylem’s dewatering and flow control capabilities include products and services that can quickly remove water from flooded areas to promote public safety and minimize damage. For example, Xylem’s Rental Solutions business provides cities with emergency, round-the-clock dewatering services – enabling capital expenditure avoidance on dewatering equipment while securing access to vital flood control services in times of crisis.
From sewer bypass systems that ensure wastewater infrastructure continues to operate during disaster events, to pump station backups, to the emergency water technologies that get clean water where it needs to be, Xylem provides innovative solutions and services to help cities increase resilience.
Here is a snapshot of recent weather-related emergencies that Xylem Rental Solutions has responded to, providing quick access to water removal equipment:
- In North and South Carolina, Hurricane Florence caused historic rainfall and catastrophic flooding in 2018, wiping out power for nearly 800,000 people in the area. In advance of the storm, the local commercial Xylem team deployed a series of dewatering pumps and equipment across North America to customers to withstand the weather, protect critical infrastructure and enable a quicker recovery from the storm.
- In August 2018, severe monsoon rainfall in the southern Indian state of Kerala resulted in the worst flood in 100 years, killing hundreds and displacing almost 1 million people.
- Xylem dewatering experts joined the teams on the ground and flew in high volume water pumps from Dubai. These powerful dewatering pumps operate independently of the power grid to help remove floodwater. They were installed on barges to dewater low-lying areas, aiding in recovery of flooded schools and fields.
In September 2018, Typhoon Mangkhut – the most powerful storm of the year – hit northern Luzon, the biggest island in the Philippines, causing catastrophic flooding and landslides. In response, Xylem provided pumping equipment and technical expertise.
While the world’s water challenges are growing exponentially, so too are the opportunities to address and overcome them. By responding quickly and methodically in the aftermath of natural disasters, communities can save lives, time and money. Rapid dewatering, diligent emergency services and innovative reconstruction efforts can help cities “build back better.” That’s why Xylem is focused every day on finding a smarter way forward to solve water and help communities in need – whether its assisting in building a flood relief contingency plan ahead of the storm or responding when wet weather disasters strike.
“Xylem is privileged to be a part of an industry where we pioneer innovative approaches and solutions that are not only core to our business, but also have a lasting impact on society,” said Delzingaro. “And we’re humbled we can leverage our expertise and offerings to help communities, when and where possible, meet severe water challenges — like lack of drinkable water and flooding — that can arise after disaster strikes.”
In addition to the disaster preparedness and response solutions Xylem offers, the company’s 17,000 global employees frequently help support recovery and relief efforts around the world, through donations and volunteerism. Xylem deploys experts to disaster sites to provide water-related expertise, as well as critical technology and equipment. Additionally, through Watermark, Xylem’s corporate citizenship program, we help provide boots on the ground in the places that need them most, or raise funds or volunteer time to send critical food, clothing and sanitary supplies.
“For us, this work is about creating social value and an integral part of our shared commitment to solve water,” said Delzingaro.