Water groups ask Congress to help address climate change impact on water resources

The Water Environment Federation (WEF) and a coalition of national water organizations called on Congress to recognize the severe impacts that global climate change will likely have on water resources in the U.S. 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 climate change...

ALEXANDRIA, VA, May 20, 2008 -- The Water Environment Federation (WEF) and a coalition of national water organizations called on Congress to recognize the severe impacts that global climate change will likely have on water resources in the United States. The other organizations were 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.

Most experts believe drinking water providers, flood and stormwater agencies, and wastewater systems will experience serious and immediate repercussions from climate change, such as reduced snow pack, increased storm frequency, drought, and rising sea levels. Sent in advance of the Senate's planned June debate of S. 2191, the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, the organizations hope this statement will serve as a framework for Congressional action on the nexus between climate change and water.

"Climate change and its growing impact on our world is the paramount environmental issue of our time," said WEF Executive Director Bill Bertera. "This action demonstrates our organizations' collective and ongoing commitment to providing a sustainable water environment by raising awareness among policymakers about this crucial environmental concern."

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 climate change. The statement notes 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." The organizations are encouraging Congress to include the following objectives when developing comprehensive climate change legislation:

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

WEF's involvement with this statement is a direct result of its own climate change resolution. Passed in October 2006, the resolution commits WEF to working with its members, members associations, and others to help reduce the impacts of climate change to better prepare the water quality community for its effects. It also urges WEF members and local agencies to become leaders in their own communities by taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from treatment facilities and related operations, and by educating the public. Other activities include an organization-wide "Low Carbon Diet" program, a Community of Practice on Sustainability, and a specialty conference called, "Sustainability 2008: Green Practices for the Water Environment" to be held June 25-28, 2008 in National Harbor, Md.

In addition, WEF is working with the Water Environment Research Foundation to ensure that research dollars are available for studying the impacts of global climate change on our water resources and will remain active in developing policy recommendations to prepare for the likely enactment of a climate policy from the next Congress.

Formed in 1928, the Water Environment Federation (WEF) is a not-for-profit technical and educational organization with more than 34,000 individual members and 81 affiliated Member Associations representing an additional 50,000 water quality professionals throughout the world.

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