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Collaboration and improved research key to coping with climate change
United by the fact that climate change poses a major long-term challenge to delivering high-quality drinking water, eight of the nation's largest water agencies announced the formation of a coalition, the Water Utility Climate Alliance (WUCA). The alliance will work to improve research into the impacts of climate change on water utilities, develop strategies for adapting to climate change and implement tactics to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
Comprised of Denver Water, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, New York City Department of Environmental Protection, Portland Water Bureau, San Diego County Water Authority, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, Seattle Public Utilities and the Southern Nevada Water Authority, the WUCA members supply drinking water for more than 36 million people throughout the U.S.
"Water utilities are among the first responders to the effects of climate change," said Susan Leal, general manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which chairs the WUCA. "Our systems are facing risk due to diminishing snowpack, bigger storms, more frequent drought and rising sea levels. We need to be organized to respond to these risks -- that's why we've formed this alliance."
Patricia Mulroy, general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, said, "Water agencies throughout the nation will invest hundreds of billions of dollars in infrastructure over the next 15 years alone, and those investments must be informed by climate projections that are as accurate as possible."
Emily Lloyd, commissioner of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, said, "We need the best possible research to enhance our understanding of how climate change will impact water supplies, precipitation patterns, hydrology and water quality."
In its first official act, the WUCA provided comment on the "Summary of Revised Research Plan" prepared by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program.
For more information about the WUCA, or to review comments of the "Summary of Revised Research Plan," visit http://www.sfwater.org.
The Water Utility Climate Alliance is dedicated to providing leadership and collaboration on climate-change issues affecting drinking water utilities by improving research, developing adaptation strategies and creating mitigation approaches to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The WUCA began meeting in late 2007 and includes the following members and their respective agencies:
• Susan Leal, WUCA chair and general manager, San Francisco Public Utilities
• Chips Barry, general manager, Denver Water;
• Chuck Clarke, director, Seattle Public Utilities;
• Jeff Kightlinger, general manager, The Metropolitan Water District of
• Emily Lloyd, commissioner, New York City Department of Environmental
• Patricia Mulroy, general manager, Southern Nevada Water Authority;
• David Shaff, administrator, Portland Water Bureau; and
• Maureen Stapleton, general manager, San Diego County Water Authority.