Climate Ready Water Utilities: Final Report of the National Drinking Water Advisory Council

This Climate Ready Water Utilities (CRWU) report contains recommendations to assist drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater systems across the nation to increase their resilience to climate change impacts. EPA convened a CRWU Working Group under the National Drinking Water Advisory Council (NDWAC) in 2009, and the CRWU Report was delivered to EPA in January 2011. The general premise is that climate change represents an important challenge for drinking water and wastewater utilities and should be considered in all aspects of utility planning.

The NDWAC specifically requested that the Working Group’s findings and recommendations cover three topics:

  • identify the behaviors that will characterize a climate ready utility;
  • identify climate change-related tools, training, and products needed to enable climate ready utility behaviors; and
  • explore ways to encourage broad adoption through incentives incorporated into existing EPA Office of Water recognition and awards programs or new recognition programs.

Reflecting these objectives, the report includes 11 findings and 12 recommendations, an Adaptive Response Framework to guide climate ready activities, and the identification of needed resources and possible incentives to support and encourage utility climate readiness.

The findings in the report identify current water sector needs and challenges utilities face when attempting to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change. A pertinent example - they found that the water sector utilities are overwhelmed with climate change information, yet lack coordination by federal agencies, state agencies, and other water sector actors in order to act on the information.

The recommendations in the NDWAC report focus primarily on the actions necessary to overcome the obstacles identified in the findings.  Example recommendations are to:

- Develop an adaptive regulatory capacity in response to potential climate change alteration of underlying ecological conditions and systems.
- Develop a comprehensive water sector, climate change research strategy.
- Advocate for better coordination of federal agency climate change programs and services

The Adaptive Response Framework guides utilities through an iterative process for taking immediate actions that build resilience to climate change impacts. This framework presents a response strategy that utility managers and water sector experts can use to address climate change.




Publication Date: January 2011

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  • Planning guides
  • Policy analysis/recommendations


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