Member Pipeline - Action Alert - February 22, 2007

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February 22, 2007


NACWA Seeks Member Input on Brief Climate Change Survey
NACWA is interested in learning from its public agency members whether their agencies or communities have initiated any planning related to, or actions in, response to the growing concerns surrounding climate change. NACWA has recently undertaken an effort to review the emissions estimates the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed for wastewater treatment plants and activity on other climate-related fronts is intensifying throughout the Federal government. For example, EPA’s Office of Research and Development is conducting a study to determine whether changes in precipitation patterns related to climate change may affect ongoing efforts to reduce combined sewer overflows (CSOs). In addition, states have already developed, or are developing, strict regulatory regimes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are impacting, or may impact, clean water agencies and the U.S. Congress is poised to do the same.

There are critical linkages between climactic changes, including precipitation quantity and intensity, water availability, and sea level increases, and the management of water and wastewater. Many communities are looking for ways to control their greenhouse gas emissions in the hopes of stemming the effects of climate change, but at the same time are developing plans to adapt to possible changes should reduction efforts fail. Additionally, while many of the Nation’s clean water agencies may not explicitly have programs in place for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, current efforts, such as the reuse of methane gas, can significantly decrease greenhouse gas emissions by preventing the release of methane and by decreasing the treatment plant’s energy consumption. These may be activities that Congress would support as part of a climate control legislative package. Given these interests, NACWA believes that the clean water community must be an active participant in the debate on climate change to ensure the interests of the clean water community are voiced.

To appropriately assess its future activity on these issues, however, NACWA needs input from its public agency members on the following six questions to help inform its advocacy efforts. Please fill out this survey and click submit, or send your responses to Cynthia Finley, NACWA’s Director of Regulatory Affairs, at, or by fax at 202/833-4657 by March 9, 2007.

Is climate change (or global warming) and the predicted impacts of such change currently a concern for your agency?  Yes No

Please explain why it is (or is not) a concern and whether you see it taking on added significance in the future.

Has your agency modified, or considered modifying, its planning for, or implementation of, a wet weather program (e.g., stormwater management plan, combined sewer overflow long-term control plan) due to possible changes in precipitation patterns as a result of climate change?  Yes No

For some in California and in the Northeast, state and regional efforts are forcing clean water agencies to consider their greenhouse gas contributions and potentially seeking reductions from clean water agencies as sources of emissions. Will your agency be affected by regional, state, or local efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?  Yes No

If yes, please briefly describe the effort and how it will affect your agency.

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas for which wastewater treatment plants are considered an important source. How is your agency currently managing methane gas generated in the treatment process?

Flared/Wasted                Digester Heating                 Thermal Drying of Biosolids
Building Heat                  Electric Power Generation Other 

If your agency is currently reusing the gas (e.g., for electric power generation, heating or other use), what was the motivation behind the reuse effort (energy efficiency, decreased emissions, other)?

Has your agency measured its methane and/or nitrous oxide (another important greenhouse gas) emissions?  Yes No

Has your agency quantified influent nitrogen to the treatment plant?  Yes No

If you or your agency has any additional thoughts or comments on the issue of climate change and the role of NACWA advocacy efforts, the Association welcomes them.

Your information:


Again, please submit this online form or send responses to Cynthia Finley, NACWA’s Director of Regulatory Affairs, at, or by fax to 202/833-4657 by March 9, 2007.