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US Water Alliance Forging the Way Toward a Net Zero Future

December 14, 2023

MetroConnects’ aerial pipe at a river crossing. Image taken by Metro drone.

US Water Alliance and the Water Research Foundation Join Forces

Climate change is upon us, and it is everyone’s responsibility to take measures to help dampen its effects. The US Water Alliance is helping the water and wastewater industries do just that with its new project on climate action in the water sector. Working with the Water Research Foundation, the US Water Alliance’s project will help the water industry take steps toward achieving net-zero climate impact targets by developing consensus-based methodologies and open-source tools for tracking greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the water sector. 

The Water Alliance’s announcement that it was selected by the Water Research Federation to spearhead this project came just as world leaders were gathering in Dubai for the United Nations Climate Conference (COP28). At the conference, climate experts reiterated the urgency of taking action now to reduce emissions and work toward a net-zero future — a future that needs to come as soon as possible to curb the already growing impact of a warming planet. The water sector can play a pivotal role by implementing industry standards toward reducing GHG emissions.

First Steps

The first step in reduction is learning where, how, and how much GHG is being released in the process of collecting, treating, distributing, and releasing water and wastewater. This information is critical, the US Water Alliance says, because it will help provide an understanding of what changes can be made to help reduce those emissions. The Alliance assembled a team of industry experts from CDM Smith, Cobalt Water Global, GHD, Jacobs, Northern Tilth, and Stantec, as well as academic researchers from Princeton, Brown and Caldwell universities to guide the project. Together, they will develop user-friendly, industry-wide guidance and an open-access tool for calculating GHG emissions.

“Water utilities are not only impacted by our growing climate crisis; they can play a major role in helping solve the climate crisis and ensure all communities can thrive,” US Water Alliance CEO, Mami Hara, stated in a press release. “This project is a vital step that will allow water utilities to do their part in reducing emissions to achieve a net-zero future.”

MetroConnects’ Commitment to Sustainability

MetroConnects is following US Water Alliance and Water Research Foundation projects with excitement. We recognize our role in protecting the environment and public health in the sewer collection work that we do every day. With the tools and guidelines provided through this research, we will be able to continue providing this essential service while also building on our commitment to sustainability.

A Net Zero Vision Plus Vision

The US Water Alliance’s GHG tracking project is part of its larger Water Net Zero Plus Vision plan, a call to action that it released in 2022. The report, Water’s Net Zero Plus: A Call to Action for Climate Mitigation, details the US water sector’s vision for transforming the water sector by 2050 to an equitable and decarbonized industry.

The plan’s acronym, ALIGNED, indicates seven cultural transformations that the organization believes must take place to reach its goals: A for “act now,” L for “lead from the heart,” I for “invest for all people and the planet,” G for “give respect and room for different knowledge and value systems as necessary partners,” N for “negate fossil fuels and process emissions,” E for “embrace watershed and water cycle thinking,” and D for “deliver water equity and environmental justice.” Learn more about the US Water Alliance’s commitment to climate here.