Water

Union Pacific strives to be a responsible steward of America’s water resources. We estimate that we consumed 2.55 billion gallons of water in 2013. Using tools developed by the Global Environmental Management Initiative, we determined our water risk from operations is low.

The company’s role in water management stretches back to our beginnings, as we frequently played the role of the first land developers across the western United States. To this day, Union Pacific is responsible for providing safe drinking water to the public in a handful of cities. Water, like energy, is challenging to manage, as we have thousands of water utility accounts across our 32,000-mile network. In addition, older structures can make it challenging to reduce our energy and water usage. For this reason, we continue to update outdated facilities.

Protecting groundwater is also important to our company. Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) plans have been prepared and implemented at more than 130 Union Pacific facilities. We also operate and maintain 90 wastewater treatment facilities. Our wastewater treatment facilities capture wastewater created during equipment washing, locomotive fueling and maintenance, intermodal crane and truck maintenance, track and roadway equipment shop maintenance, and stormwater accumulation at shop facilities. Once captured, wastewater undergoes treatment, a process that requires stringent compliance with governmental regulations and wastewater discharge permits, to ensure it meets acceptable cleanliness levels.

To support regulatory compliance, the railroad recently implemented a new wastewater treatment facility management system at 32 locations. The system allows operators to gather and analyze wastewater treatment facility data in real time from the equipped locations. The system also allows for remote operation of certain facility components.

Union Pacific also contributed to a case study regarding U.S. companies' preparations for perceptions of water challenges.