Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

EPA Report Examines Water Utilities' Climate Readiness

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

EPA Report Examines Water Utilities' Climate Readiness

Article excerpt

A recent report from the National Drinking Water Advisory Council focuses on the importance of integrating climate change impacts into the long-range plans of water and wastewater utilities. Starting with the premise that climate change represents an important challenge for the water sector, necessitating its consideration in all aspects of utility planning, the report points to the need for further support to motivate and enable water sector utilities to become more climate ready.

The report was prepared by the Climate Ready Water Utilities (CRWU) Working Group, a committee formed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Drinking Water Advisory Council.

As NLC's representative to the Working Group, I helped ensure that the final report supported NLC's policies on the need to prepare for climate change impacts by stating the need for all water sector utilities to begin planning how to adapt to, and mitigate the effects of, climate change.

The working group was charged with evaluating the concept of "climate ready water utilities"--determining the probable impacts of climate change on water, wastewater and stormwater utilities, and enabling those utilities to incorporate climate change considerations into their long-range plans.

This is particularly critical in the water utility sector given its very large capital projects and the need to plan for changing conditions many years, and often decades, in advance in order to continue to reliably provide essential services.

While the impacts of climate change were acknowledged as a critical challenge for the water sector that must be considered in utility decision making, the working group recognized that climate science is evolving, with precise guidance about long-term, localized climate impacts not generally available. In addition, many water sector utilities continue to struggle to meet their basic service needs and federal and state regulatory requirements.

The CRWU Working Group's final report contains a set of findings and recommendations that detail the current state of understanding and readiness of water utilities to deal with climate change, and provides specific advice to EPA regarding programs and policies that would assist utilities. …

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