Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS), an Amazon.com company, today announced that its community water projects, in collaboration with global nonprofits Water.org and WaterAid, have provided access to clean water for more than 250,000 Indian citizens in the states of Maharashtra, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh, India, since 2020. Moving forward, AWS plans to accelerate its work with Water.org, WaterAid, and other global nonprofits to expand initiatives focused on preserving water resources, improving access to clean water, developing sustainable sanitation operations, and continuing to improve the water efficiency of its own operations, in India and around the world.
In collaboration with Water.org and local organizations, AWS provides affordable loans in the three Indian states to help nearby communities finance the installation of piped water connections and toilets in individual houses. With WaterAid, AWS assists with rainwater harvesting, groundwater recharge systems, piped water installations, and community awareness programs in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
With India’s population of 1.38 billion people, these programs are especially important. According to Water.org, more than 6% of Indian citizens lack access to safe water. A lack of household water connections and toilets contributes significantly to waterborne illnesses, stunting, and death. In addition, as millions navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, accessing safe water is critical to families’ health in India.
“In India, support provided by AWS to Water.org has enabled long-lasting, climate-resilient water and sanitation solutions for over 210,000 people in Maharashtra, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh,” said Michael Mayernik, Water.org Head of Corporate Partnerships. “Installations have included household piped connections, water taps, rainwater harvesting and storage, toilets, borewells, community water filtration, and infrastructure improvements. These projects also account for an estimated 500 million liters per year of recurring water volume benefit. Most beneficiaries are female, and with reliable access to water, health is improved, kids stay in school, income increases, and opportunities, especially for women and girls, expand. Water is the way to break the cycle of poverty, to protect and save lives, and to make a more equitable future possible.”
Water.org develops programs by partnering with microfinance institutions, self-help group federations, and state rural livelihood missions to empower local communities in India with water resources. In Maharashtra, Water.org works with the Mahila Arthik Vikas Mahamandal (MAVIM), which is the State Women’s Development Corporation of the Government of Maharashtra, to market water supply and sanitation (WSS) loan products. To date, the various field activities with MAVIM have reached more than 130,000 people in Maharashtra. This includes WSS training and raising awareness in communities on loan products such as accessible family toilets and rooftop rainwater harvesting systems. In 2021, Water.org and MAVIM also installed community water purification plants in the Thelegaon and Deurwada villages, where each plant can provide clean water for up to 150 families.
“For safe and assured drinking water to become a reality, we must ensure that the source of water is sustainable,” said WaterAid Chief Executive in India VK Madhavan. “We are delighted at this opportunity to address this critical issue in India with AWS’s support. In Hyderabad, WaterAid has constructed multiple rainwater harvesting structures in schools and community institutions to increase access to water for these community members. To date, our project has benefitted over 23,000 people in Hyderabad alone. Thanks to the generous support of AWS, communities in and near these locations can benefit from the efforts to secure access to water sources and the campaigns to educate people about the importance of water conservation.”
Since July 2020, AWS and WaterAid have worked together on projects to respond to communities facing water security issues across Hyderabad and in 30 villages with gram panchayats (village governing institutions) in the Chittoor, Guntur, and Vizianagaram districts in the neighboring state of Andhra Pradesh. For example, in the Zilla Parishad High School of Venkateswaranagar, Jagadgirigutta in Hyderabad, WaterAid constructed a 12,000-liter storage tank with separate compartments for rainwater and municipal water, two handwashing stations, and a recharge system for excess rainwater and runoff. This benefited a total of 826 school students and teachers. The rainwater harvesting and groundwater recharge projects by WaterAid across Hyderabad and the three districts in Andhra Pradesh have resulted in the generation of over 240 million liters of water per year, reaching over 40,000 people in the project areas.
“Water is a precious resource, and we’re committed to having a positive presence in the communities where we operate around the world,” said Will Hewes, Global Water Sustainability Lead at AWS. “These safe water programs in India are critical to the families and local communities, and they have already benefited more than 250,000 people in India. These high-impact and scalable programs help us ensure that AWS has a positive impact on water availability where we operate. We are humbled by the opportunity to return water to communities in India thanks to the hard work of Water.org and WaterAid.”
AWS’s collaboration with Water.org and WaterAid in India is one way that AWS practices water stewardship. For AWS, running its operations sustainably also means reducing the amount of water used to cool data centers. AWS’s holistic approach minimizes both energy and water consumption in its data center operations. This guides its water use strategy for each AWS Region—which starts with evaluating climate patterns, local water management and availability, and opportunities to avoid using drinking water sources. In some locations, AWS uses outside air for cooling much of the year, and on the hottest days when it does need water for cooling, AWS optimizes its systems to use minimal water. AWS is constantly innovating the design of its cooling systems and uses real-time sensor data to adapt to changing weather conditions to further reduce water use. AWS also uses reclaimed or recycled water instead of potable drinking water for cooling in multiple geographic regions and is working with local utilities to expand the use of reclaimed water wherever possible.
Many of our Amazon facilities in India also have the ability to collect and recycle water on-site with rainwater collection tanks or recharge wells and in-house sewage treatment plants, making it possible to reuse water for flushing and gardening.