Industrial Water Europe Water storage

Pee to pitch: New water collaborations putting football ahead

Thursday, 23 June 2022

As the transfer window opens, the water sector sees its first big signings, as Xylem extends its partnership with current Premier League champions Manchester City and Nijhuis Saur Industries signs a new deal with Forest Green Rovers FC.

Accelerating action on critical water challenges

Current Premier League Champions Manchester City is extending its multi-year partnership with water technology company Xylem.

The renewed partnership will include the Manchester City men’s and women’s teams, Major League Soccer (MLS) Champions New York City FC and Mumbai City, who are part of City Football Group (CFG).

The aim of the partnership, Xylem say, has been to raise awareness about pressing global water challenges and solutions.

“To partner with a club that is committed to bringing about positive social change through football is a natural fit.”

Part of the new deal will see Xylem's social contingent, Xylem Watermark, work with Manchester City on projects such as building water towers in communities around the world without access to clean water.

Patrick Decker, President and CEO of Xylem, said: “To partner with a club that is committed to bringing about positive social change through football is a natural fit. Working with Manchester City, we will extend our reach to their massive fan base and, in doing so, increase our ability to create social value.”

A successful four years

Through the partnership to date, Manchester City and Xylem say they have already reached more than one billion people through water awareness, education and volunteerism initiatives that advance their shared mission to create a more sustainable world.

To date, the partnership has worked with over 500 young global community football leaders to deliver water awareness education and provide water access to over 20,000 children in eight countries across the world.

Back in 2021, Xylem and Manchester City worked with PUMA to launch the world’s first sports kit dedicated to raising awareness of water challenges.

The kit was made using a special dope dye manufacturing process that reduces water consumption.

Roel de Vries, City Football Group’s Group Chief Operating Officer, said: "Using the voice and influence of Manchester City, NYCFC and Mumbai City, we will continue to raise awareness and change behaviours around sustainable approaches.”

The greenest football club in the world

Elsewhere, Nijhuis Saur Industries has signed a new five-year deal with Forest Green Rovers FC, described by FIFA as the greenest football club in the world.

Nijhuis Saur Industries will provide the newly crowned League Two Champions with restrooms and urine treatment facilities for the Away Fan Zone at the club's New Lawn ground in Gloucestershire, UK.

“The result is a system that closes the loop between water treatment and water supply, to provide three of the necessities for life: water, food, and good sanitation.”

The treatment will use Nijhuis Saur Industries' modular, closed loop units to convert fans’ urine into clean water and a concentrated fertiliser product, both of which can be used to keep the pitch in top condition.

Nijhuis said the modules also have the potential for further treatment options of wastewater from the toilets and handwashing facilities to produce compost and flush water. The modules can also be configured to produce biogas and electricity.

Ian Stentiford, regional director of Nijhuis Saur Industries UK, said: “The concept behind the system is space-based technology, where three separate wastewater streams –grey, yellow and black from handwashing, urinals and toilets respectively – are converted into flush water, irrigation water, fertiliser, and compost.

"The result is a system that closes the loop between water treatment and water supply, to provide three of the necessities for life: water, food, and good sanitation.”

Since 2010, Forest Green Rovers FC has introduced many sustainability measures, including solar panels, electric car charging points, water recycling, an electric lawnmower, an organic pitch, and an entirely vegan menu for players and fans to become completely carbon neutral.

Football’s impact on water

From keeping pitches in tip-top conditions to irrigation and even keeping the toilets flowing, water is essential to the daily needs of football.

However, football's water impact is starting to be taken seriously by the clubs as a deal like these two from City and Forest Green Rovers show.

The Sport Positive Leagues, launched in 2019, has for the past three years ranked Premier League clubs on their water sustainability, assigning points, to determine a league table.

Liverpool fared better against City in this table as they secured the top spot this year. The club’s comprehensive programme is well underway with investment into reducing and reusing water at its Academy, AXA Training Centre and Anfield stadium.

While the sport has a long way to go, deals like these and the data from the Sport Positive Leagues suggest that football is heading in the right direction.

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