News | May 14, 2010

NACWA Calls For Water Adaptation Program In Climate Bill

The National Association of Clean Water (NACWA) calls on Senate leaders to add a "Blue Bank for Water System Mitigation and Adaptation" to comprehensive climate change legislation introduced by Senators John Kerry and Joe Lieberman.

We're disappointed to see that the ‘American Power Act' does not contain any relief for communities faced with the daunting challenges of managing their water resources in the face of climate change," said Ken Kirk, NACWA's Executive Director. "Climate change is all about water – either there will be too much where we don't want it or not enough where we do. And while it's certainly important to ensure our natural ecosystems adjust to the changing climate, telling communities they are on their own when it comes to ensuring adequate drinking water supplies and avoiding sewage in their streets and rivers is not going to cut it."

A study completed last year by NACWA and the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) estimated that the climate adaptation costs faced by water and wastewater systems in the U.S. could approach $1 trillion through 2050.

"Recent floods in the Northeast that shut down local sewage treatment plants and forced people to not use area restrooms should have sent a loud message that global climate change is a public health issue of the first order. Any comprehensive climate change legislation must recognize that our local water and wastewater infrastructure will need help in adapting to the challenge. Communities are already facing severe financial burdens in meeting their water and wastewater treatment needs, let's not leave them alone to foot the climate change bill," Kirk added.

Last year, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid introduced legislation (S. 1712) that would create a "Blue Bank for Water System Mitigation and Adaptation." The program would offer local water and wastewater utilities matching grants to fund climate adaptation efforts and studies. Rep. Lois Capps introduced similar legislation in the House (H.R. 2969).

Kirk concluded, "Many wastewater treatment utilities will need to comply with the greenhouse gas reduction targets established in the bill, at a significant cost to ratepayers. Is it asking too much to receive some relief for the enormous adaptation bill coming due?"