Metropolitan Water District Looks to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Address Climate Change

By on October 17, 2018

The Metropolitan Water District (MWD) Board of Directors has voted to develop a Climate Action Plan with a goal of providing a complete framework of how to reduce the district’s carbon footprint. The plan will include reducing the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) produced in the delivery of water to Southern California as well as a comprehensive plan to combat climate change. The MWD board also voted to award an $815,000 contract to Rincon Consultants, Inc. to assist in creating the plan, which will be developed over the next 18 months. Rincon Consultants maintains more than a dozen offices in mostly Southern and Central California.

“Climate change is already stressing the water supplies that Southern California relies on,” said current Metropolitan board Chairman Randy Record. “Metropolitan is confronting those challenges and, with this plan, will comprehensively evaluate our overall footprint and assess what more should be done.”

Assembly Bill 32 first requires that California is to reduce its GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 — a reduction of approximately 15 percent. AB 32 and other state regulations have set an additional goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent of 1990 levels by 2050. The state has asked the water sector to help in contributing to that reduction.

MWD’s GHG emissions-lowering plan will include an analysis of the emissions produced in importing, treating and delivering water, assess the actions the district has already taken to reduce that footprint and provide a blueprint of how to further mitigate emissions. AB 32 was authored by then-Assembly member Fran Pavley (D-41st District-Pasadena) and former California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez (D-46th District-Los Angeles) and signed into law by then-California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on September 27, 2006.

MWD already voluntarily reports much of its emission data to the Climate Registry. And last month, the district joined the California Resilience Challenge, a new initiative to strengthen the state’s resilience to climate change. The district’s evolving Climate Action Plan is the district’s latest effort to address climate change.

As the Climate Action Plan develops it will quantify the district’s existing greenhouse gas reduction measures, including its solar and hydropower facilities, water conservation programs, and employee rideshare and transit programs, said MWD General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger. It will also provide guidance on the mitigation necessary for future projects, such as the Regional Recycled Water Program—the demonstration project that could become the largest water recycling facility in the country, he said.

“Everyone in California must take greenhouse gas emissions into account as new projects are developed. The Climate Action Plan will inform Metropolitan’s future decisions as we continue our commitment to sustainability and reducing the effects of climate change,” Kightlinger said.