Water Week 2014: Water leaders, federal agencies seek climate change resilience

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WASHINGTON, DC, April 10, 2014 -- As part of Water Week 2014, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) and the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) recently hosted a Water Resilience Summit to explore climate-driven resilience challenges that water and wastewater utilities face, as well as develop viable collaborative approaches and solutions to address them.

Following a number of discussions the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) leadership earlier this year, NACWA and AMWA recognized the need to explore the legal, economic and practical challenges to utility climate change resilience and to explore these solutions with federal agencies. At the Summit, key municipal and federal agency leaders and economic experts engaged in a facilitated discussion expanding on three themes:

  • Resilience, Risk Tolerance and Long-Term Planning
  • Constraints to Local Utility Resilience and Collaborative Ways to Overcome Barriers
  • Financing and Funding for Resilience and Opportunities for Partnership


EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy provided a keynote address at the Summit: "From historic droughts that threaten water supplies to super storms that overwhelm sewer systems, the impacts of climate change are felt at the local level where we treat and manage our water. That's why EPA supports AMWA's and NACWA's leadership on building and designing resilient water systems that take climate change into account."

Diane VanDe Hei, AMWA's Executive Director, added, "Confronted with drought and rising coastal waters, water utilities are planning and building resilience into their operations and infrastructure. Those who participated in the Water Resilience Summit are on the forefront of that work. Over the last day and a half, the leaders of those water utilities shared their experiences and offered recommendations for future partnership with federal agency officials."

Accordingly, Ken Kirk, NACWA's Executive Director, said, "Climate change is all about water. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy made it clear that the issue of resilience is so vast and so important, that municipalities and the federal government must come together to address it. The Summit is just the beginning."

In addition to utilities from coast to coast, federal agencies represented included EPA, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of the Interior (DOI), the Department of Energy, the White House's Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Providing a financial risk perspective, Lindene Patton, Chief Climate Product Officer of Zurich Insurance Group, Ltd., noted that, "we have an opportunity to dramatically improve the resilience of our critical infrastructure. This can be achieved in a manner that will ultimately save federal, state and local governments billions of dollars annually. Seizing this opportunity will require investment by local, state and federal governments in enhanced infrastructure resilience measures and elimination of government policies and programs that provide disincentives to improved resilience."

For more information on Water Week and individual events, visit www.WaterWeek.us.

See also:

"Water Week 2014: Congressional briefing held by Clean Water Caucus"

"Water Week 2014 to advocate for clean water, education, innovation at capital"

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