Preserving water resources and safeguarding watersheds are important environmental protection priorities. IBM's first water conservation goal was established in 2000 and has evolved over time.

IBM operations are not generally water intensive. The company's water conservation goal prioritizes efforts to reduce water use where it will have the greatest potential environmental impact. IBM's goal is to achieve year-to-year reductions in water withdrawals at larger IBM locations and data centers in water-stressed regions. In 2021, withdrawals at these locations decreased by 4.3% versus 2020.

The company's primary use of water at locations subject to this goal is cooling and humidity control at offices and data centers (40% of total water withdrawals), irrigation (31% of total water withdrawals), and domestic water use in the workplace (29% of total water withdrawals).

IBM measures and manages wastewater discharges at applicable IBM locations for maintaining operational conditions and compliance with discharge permits. Water discharges are managed at a location level and discharge information is reported to regulatory agencies where required. IBM tracks and manages total water discharges from the company’s locations worldwide that have site regulatory wastewater discharge permits. The company’s global environmental management system establishes treatment requirements applicable to IBM locations that discharge directly to receiving waters. IBM locations with industrial or sanitary wastewater treatment plants on site that are processing industrial or sanitary wastewater must adhere to these IBM requirements wherever they may be located.