Climate Change

The American Water Works Association recognizes that global climate changes and inherent variability are having impacts on the hydrologic cycle, source water, and water demands and, therefore can significantly affect the quantity, quality, and reliability of water supplies. Two principal goals for water utilities regarding impacts due to climate change are: to assess risk and uncertainty due to climate change; and to develop and take actions to improve resiliency and sustainability in utility facilities and overall utility management.

AWWA supports the development of more refined climate models and tools to address the impacts of climate changes on water quality, quantity, and demand at scales that are relevant to water utilities. AWWA encourages water utilities to: support regional climate modeling; respond proactively to anticipated climate variation; and develop adaptation responses to enhance resiliency for a range of projected climate impacts.

Water utilities should monitor climate science developments, reach out to climate science research programs, and participate in the practical application of climate modeling and impact assessment at the utility scale. To effectively integrate climate science into water utility operation and planning, water utilities should collaborate with national climate services to address the needs of water utilities.

AWWA believes it is essential for water utilities to work together and with other sectors of water users on climate change analyses, evaluation of alternative scenarios, and mitigation and adaptation planning and investments. Comprehensive planning efforts such as integrated water resources development, contingency and emergency preparedness, risk assessments and energy management plans can address a wide range of climate scenarios in preparation for, and response to, changing climate conditions.

Water utilities should work closely with power suppliers to address issues related to the water-energy nexus. AWWA encourages and supports efforts by water utilities to examine their energy usage and carbon footprint, and reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by developing energy efficiency and management plans. The development of "water footprints" helps utilities and the communities they serve prioritize climate change responses and communicate them to the public.

Approved by the Board of Directors Jan. 17, 2010. Revised Jan. 19, 2014.