May 23, 2008

Groups Urge Congress to Address Water Resource Impacts of Climate Change

Groups want to ensure climate legislation includes support for drinking water providers, flood and storm water agencies and wastewater systems

As Congress prepares to begin consideration of climate change legislation, a coalition of eight national water organizations recently called on senators and representatives to recognize the severe impacts that global climate change will likely have on water resources in the U.S.

The groups included the Water Environment Federation, the American Water Works Association, Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, National Association of Clean Water Agencies, National Association of Flood and Stormwater Management
Agencies, National Association of Water Companies, Water Utility Climate
Alliance and the Western Urban Water Coalition.

The groups, whose members serve the vast majority of U.S. water and wastewater consumers, urged Congress to ensure that upcoming climate change legislation includes federal support and incentives to help drinking water providers, flood and storm water agencies and wastewater systems confront the impacts of climate change.

In a statement (available at sent to members of the House and Senate in advance of next month's planned consideration of S. 2191, the "Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act," the water organizations stressed that "[m]any of the most critical impacts of global climate change will manifest themselves through the hydrologic system, and there is already strong evidence that climate change is having an impact on the world's water resources." Most experts believe drinking water providers, flood and storm water agencies and wastewater systems will experience serious repercussions from climate change, such as reduced snow pack, increased storm frequency and drought, and rising sea levels.

The organizations identified three broad objectives that Congress should include in comprehensive climate change legislation:

&#149 Research to develop and improve climate prediction models, necessary data resources, alternative water sources, new water management techniques, and evaluations of new carbon control technologies;
&#149 Federal and other financial support for climate adaptation projects, including infrastructure enhancements, that may be needed to neutralize the regional impacts of climate change; and
&#149 Incentives that encourage utilities, along with other small-scale emitters, to voluntarily reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

The water organizations believe their statement should serve as a framework for Congressional action on the nexus between climate change and water. According to the organizations, enactment of their recommendations would be a significant contribution toward the sector's efforts to continue providing critical water service in spite of the effects of climate change.