x>EPA
United States
Environmental Protection
Agency
                       CLIMATE READY
                          WATER UTILITIES
                                &EBV
Adaptive Response Framework for
Drinking Water and Wastewater Utilities
               Climate
 ><
 Com mu

-------
&EPA
United States
Environmental Protection
Agency
EPA 817-F-12-009
November 2012
      Adaptive Response Framework for
   Drinking Water and Wastewater Utilities
                CLIMATE READY
                   WATER UTILITIES

-------
                                           DISCLAIMER

           The Climate Ready Water Utilities Adaptive Response Framework for Drinking Water and
           Wastewater Utilities was prepared by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
           as an informational resource to assist drinking water and wastewater utility owners
           in understanding and addressing climate change risks. It does not purport to be a
           comprehensive or exhaustive list of all impacts and potential risks from climate change.

           The information contained in this Framework was developed in accordance with best
           industry practices. It should not be exclusively relied on in conducting risk assessments or
           developing response plans. This information is also not a substitute for the professional
           advice of an attorney or environmental or climate change professional. This information is
           provided without warranty of any kind and EPA hereby disclaims any liability for damages,
           arising from the use of the Framework, including, without limitation, direct, indirect or
           consequential damages including personal injury, property loss, loss of revenue, loss of
           profit, loss of opportunity, or other loss.
        Office of Water (4608 T)    EPA 817-F-12-009    www.epa.gov/watersecurity   November 2012


ADAPTIVE RESPONSE FRAMEWORK                                                                     Page i

-------
Adaptive Response Framework
TABLE OF CONTENTS
            DISCLAIMER	i

            GETTING STARTED WITH THE FRAMEWORK	1

            WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE CLIMATE READY?	2

            CLIMATE IMPACT AWARENESS	4

            ADAPTATION STRATEGIES	5

            MITIGATION STRATEGIES	6

            FEDERALS STATE POLICIES AND PROGRAMS	7

            COMMUNITY INTEREST & SUPPORT	8

            PARTNERSHIPS OUTSIDE OF THE UTILITY...           ...9
ADAPTIVE RESPONSE FRAMEWORK                                               Page ii

-------
xvEPA
United States
Environmental Protection
Agency
CLIMATE READY
     WATER UTILITIES

Adaptive Response Framework
GETTING STARTED WITH THE FRAMEWORK
The Adaptive Response Framework describes approaches for water utilities seeking to become more
"climate ready."This Framework supports and guides utilities as they learn about and pursue management
techniques and adaptive actions that can be implemented to build climate readiness.The Framework is
described in the Climate Ready Water Utilities report, developed by the National Drinking Water Advisory
Council and submitted to the EPA Administrator in January 2011.

The diagram below is a version of the Adaptive Response Framework, which highlights six elements of
becoming more Climate Ready: Climate Impact Awareness, Adaptation Strategies, Federal and State Policies
and Programs, Mitigation Strategies, Community Interest and Support, and Partnerships Outside of the Utility.
Each of these elements is important for any utility that is considering taking action in response to climate
change. This Framework document includes a section for each of the six elements, explaining the relevance
and importance to the water sector, suggesting specific actions utilities can begin to take today, and offering
resources to access for further information.

To begin, click on any of the six elements in this diagram to view more detailed information. For new users, the
Climate Impact Awareness section is a good starting point. For an overall description of climate readiness and
the adaptive management process, click on the central element.
                                    Awareness
                                    Climate
                                     Ready
                                                      Mitigation
                                     Policies
ADAPTIVE RESPONSE FRAMEWORK
                                                                   Page 1

-------
                   United States
                   Environmental Protection
                   Agency
                                         CLIMATE READY
                                               WATER UTILITIES
                           Adaptive Response Framework
                Adaptation
Mitigation
Policies
Community
Partnership
Climate
 Ready
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE CLIMATE READY?
                                                    eturn to Framewor
OVERVIEW
Climate change impacts pose challenges to the water
sector's ability to fulfill its public health and environmental
missions. Extreme weather events, sea-level rise,
temperature changes, and shifting precipitation and
runoff patterns may result in changes to water quality and
availability. Uncertainty in climate change projections and
difficulty in connecting these changes to local impacts
poses a complex set of challenges to utilities. Increased
understanding of these factors has significant implications
for the resilience of the water sector.
EPA's Climate Ready Water Utilities (CRWU) initiative
provides resources for the water sector to adapt to
climate change by promoting a clear understanding
of climate science and adaptation options and by
promoting consideration of integrated water resources
management planning in the water sector. If you have not
yet incorporated climate change into your utility's decision-
making processes, it may seem daunting. But climate
change can be integrated into existing practices such as
asset management, effective utility management, water
supply and demand planning, capacity building, security,
and emergency preparedness. Capitalizing on these
connections makes climate planning more manageable
and approachable.
                                                        KEY CONCEPTS
                                                         Climate ready water utilities are those drinking
                                                         water, wastewater and stormwater utilities that are
                                                         actively preparing for the challenges associated with
                                                         climate change.
                                                         This preparation involves developing an
                                                         understanding of the risks that result from changes
                                                         in climate, planning to address these impacts,
                                                         and implementing adaptive actions to reduce the
                                                         consequences of climate change.
                                                         Becoming climate ready is an iterative process,
                                                         with goals within each Framework element marking
                                                         progress towards a state of readiness. Revisiting
                                                         and updating actions as new climate data and tools
                                                         become available provides utilities with a better
                                                         understanding of climate change and a more robust
                                                         adaptive management process.
   ADAPTIVE RESPONSE FRAMEWORK
                                                             Page 2

-------
                    CLIMATE  READY
                        WATER UTILITIES
                                  &EP&
                Adaptive Response Framework
                WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE CLIMATE READY?
What is adaptive management?
Due to the evolving nature of climate change, the water sector should consider managing water resources using an
adaptive management approach. The National Research Council1 defines adaptive management as "promoting flex-
ible decision making that can be adjusted in the face of uncertainties as outcomes from management actions and
other events become better understood." It incorporates the main principles and ideals of integrated management,
such  as a holistic and participatory approach, especially through meaningful collaboration with stakeholders.

Adaptive management proves useful in the context of climate change planning because it is an iterative process, em-
phasizing learning and structured experimentation, while simultaneously adapting to what is learned (Figure 1). It is a
knowledge-building system that involves: increased understanding and assessment of challenges and associated risk,
development of policies or plans, implementation of these plans and most importantly, monitoring of performance
and reconsideration of assessments and updated priorities. Simply put, adaptive management facilitates a process of
'learning by doing.' Utilities can continually evaluate their ability to manage and adapt to climate change impacts, and
build resiliency.
            Understand
            challenges
Assess risks
Develop
 plans
Implement
M
  Monitor
performance
          Figure 1: Adaptive Management Process

As part of the adaptive management concept, remember that it is important to re-evaluate climate planning decisions
periodically.This will ensure that up-to-date information is used, while also accounting for evolving utility resources
and priorities. Re-evaluating progress towards climate readiness can help to identify where planning adjustments are
needed and show how to implement them based on the utility's experiences and lessons learned. To help in this pro-
cess, bookmark and revisit the CRWU website to consider additional actions and review new resources and tools.
   1 National Research Council. 2004. Adaptive Management for Water Resources Planning, The National Academies Press.
    Washington, DC.
   ADAPTIVE RESPONSE FRAMEWORK
                                                                Page 3

-------
                    United States
                    Environmental Protection
                    Agency
                          CLIMATE  READY
                                WATER UTILITIES
                            Adaptive Response Framework
                                Mitigation
Policies
Community
Partnership
Climate
 Ready
CLIMATE IMPACT AWARENESS
                                    .eturn to Framework
OVERVIEW
Understanding how climate change impacts your drinking
water, wastewater, or stormwater utility is the first step in
climate-related planning. Historically, utilities have assumed
that while observed climate conditions (e.g., temperature,
precipitation, and extreme weather events such as drought,
wildfire, flooding, and loss of snowpack) may exhibit large
variations in annual and decadal time scales, the observed
variability and average conditions will remain consistent
into the future. This assumption, often referred to as
stationarity, will be challenged as the climate changes. Many
models project that future climate conditions will exceed
the variability of levels seen in the past; therefore, historical
data and trends may no longer be adequate for long-term
planning.
Climate change can negatively impact basic efforts such as
delivering adequate, reliable and sustainable water supplies,
providing effective flood management, ensuring the quality
and quantity of in-stream flows for health and environmental
purposes, maintaining rates at affordable levels, and
preparing emergency response programs. Secondary effects
of climate change may also impact utilities, such as changes
in customer demands, greater use of water for energy
production and agriculture, and even shifts in population
and economic activity. Other factors, not related to climate
change, compound these challenges and complicate
planning by presenting utilities with competing priorities to
address with a finite budget. Climate readiness can provide
utilities a hedge against climate impacts, while performing
well under a variety of environmental conditions.
        KEY CONCEPTS
         For many utilities, climate change poses serious
         challenges to operations and infrastructure across
         their service area.
         Increasing temperature, altered precipitation patterns
         and changing frequencies and durations of extreme
         weather events could have significant impacts on
         water utilities.
         Given the uncertainty in climate change projections,
         it is important for utilities to examine their long-range
         plans and prepare for a range of possible climate
         change impacts.

        ACTIONS
         Engage the local scientific community (e.g.,
         government and academia) to exchange information
         regarding climate science and consequences of
         change on water resources.
         Identify potential impacts to your utility due to climate
         change and how those impacts will challenge your
         system.
         Identify assets that would be particularly vulnerable to
         those projected impacts.
         Train personnel on how climate change may impact
         utility operations.
         Research how to integrate climate change into utility
         planning and decision-making efforts.
         Conduct a workshop with your utility and local
         stakeholders to discuss information related to your
         utility's specific concerns and possible adaptation plans.
RESOURCES
 EPA CRWU Adaptation Strategies Guide
 EPA CRWU Toolbox
 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrative Climate Portal
 U.S. Global Change Research Program Report: Global Climate Change Impacts in the U.S. (2009)
 American Association of State Cli latoloaists
   ADAPTIVE RESPONSE FRAMEWORK. AWARENESS
                                              Page 4

-------
                    United States
                    Environmental Protection
                    Agency
                                          CLIMATE READY
                                                WATER UTILITIES
                            Adaptive Response Framework
                Adaptation
Mitigation
Policies
Community
Partnership
Climate
 Ready
ADAPTATION STRATEGIES
                                                     .eturn to Framework
OVERVIEW
It is important to explore the actions your utility can take
to prepare for and adapt to projected climate change
impacts. Adaptation refers to changes in operations and
investments at the utility to account for projected changes
in environmental conditions. Adaptation options range
from small- to large-scale actions, each of which can be
performed alone or in combination with other options to
build climate resiliency.
When planning for adaptation, you will need to consider
the specific needs, priorities, and climate challenges of
your utility. Adaptation planning is not necessarily distinct
from other utility planning and practices. Since adaptation
strategies often provide multiple benefits, planning can
be most effective when integrated with overall strategies
related to emergency response, capacity development,
capital investment, water supply and demand, conservation
practices, and infrastructure maintenance. Planning related
to large and long-term investments, in particular, should
consider potential consequences from climate impacts. If
possible, investment strategies that leverage incremental
improvements to infrastructure (e.g., upgrades in lieu of
replacements) towards a long-term goal will provide more
flexibility to account for uncertainty in climate projections.
By incorporating climate adaptation into existing utility
activities and encouraging stakeholder support, future
adaptations can be streamlined.
                         KEY CONCEPTS
                          Adapting to climate change may be a critical
                          component of long-term planning and water
                          resource management strategies.
                          Utility planning should allowfor uncertainty in
                          climate projections through periodic evaluation and
                          adjustment where possible.
                          Where possible, identify opportunities to incorporate
                          adaptation into existing plans and investments, even
                          if climate change has not been a priority in the past.
                        ACTIONS
                         Leverage current awareness of climate change to
                          identify short- and long-term challenges.
                         Conduct a climate change risk assessment for your
                          utility and gauge projected capacity to provide service
                          under changing climate conditions.
                         Examine actions undertaken by similar utilities
                          to better understand how adaptation can be
                          incorporated into on-going planning and operations.
                         Determine adaptation options to reduce system
                          vulnerability.
                         Discuss options with stakeholders and the community
                          to inform decision-making processes.
                         Implement and monitor performance of adaptation
                          options to inform periodic evaluations and adjustments.
RESOURCES
 EPA CRWU Adaptation Strategies Guide
 EPA CRWU Climate Resilience Evaluation and Awareness Tool (GREAT) 2.0
 National Association of Clean Water Agencies/Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies - Confronting Climate
 Change: An Early Analysis of Water and Wastewater Adaptation Costs
 Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange
 Water Utility Climate Alliance
   ADAPTIVE RESPONSE FRAMEWORK. ADAPTATION
                                                               PageS

-------
                   United States
                   Environmental Protection
                   Agency
                                          CLIMATE  READY
                                                WATER UTILITIES
                            Adaptive Response Framework
                Adaptation
Mitigation
Policies
Community
Partnership
Climate
 Ready
MITIGATION STRATEGIES
                                                     eturn to Framewor
OVERVIEW
Mitigation strategies are actions that reduce the carbon
footprint of a utility, including reducing greenhouse gas
(GHG) emissions from operations (e.g., on-site electrical
generation from recovered sludge digest emissions),
helping to reduce a community's water footprint (reducing
the amount of energy-intensive water treatment your utility
must conduct), or even altering practices to account for a
carbon budget beyond emissions reductions (e.g., carbon
offsets on property through land use planning).
Energy management is a straightforward strategy for your
utility to pursue mitigation. By lowering the amount of
energy used, through conservation, energy efficiency, or on-
site alternative power generation, you can reduce emissions
and costs. Integrating GHG management into overall utility
planning and monitoring can help promote utility initiatives
across the community and generate environmental,
economic and social benefits.
                        KEY CONCEPTS
                         Activities that reduce the amount or rate of GHG
                         emissions from a utility are generally described as
                         mitigation.
                         Mitigation efforts can provide other benefits,
                         including reduced energy costs, increased resilience
                         to climate change, and public health co-benefits.


                        ACTIONS
                         Identify where your energy comes from (e.g., different
                         utility processes), how it is used, fuel sources, and how it
                         is measured.
                         Estimate your energy use along with direct and indirect
                         GHG emissions.
                         Identify energy management strategies and set
                         reduction targets for your utility.
                         Monitor performance against established indicators
                         and metrics and compare to measurable goals.
                         Link strategy to broader community plans, such
                         as reforestation, conservation partnerships and
                         equipment rebates.
                         Incentivize mitigation on the part of the community
                         (i.e., energy and water conservation).
                         Research energy conservation programs in your
                         community and identify collaboration opportunities.
                         Implement and evaluate energy management,
                         measuring energy savings, cost savings, and pollution
                         reduction; publicize success.
RESOURCES
 Sustainable Infrastructure Resources
 Utility Professionals Quick Links
 EPA State and Local Climate and Energy Program
 EPA Energy Use Assessment Tool
 Benchmarking Your Energy Performance with Portfolio Manager
 EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator
   ADAPTIVE RESPONSE FRAMEWORK. MITIGATION
                                                              Page 6

-------
                    United States
                    Environmental Protection
                    Agency
                  CLIMATE  READY
                       .WATER UTILITIES
                            Adaptive Response Framework
FEDERAL & STATE POLICIES AND PROGRAMS
                             .eturn to Framework
OVERVIEW
A basic awareness of policies at the federal and state level is
a critical component of adjustments to operations, changes
in infrastructure, and other responses to climate change.
Compliance with regulations could be compromised by
climate change impacts and the prioritization of actions that
address these potential challenges is important to recognize
and implement. Local experts and current partners,
including town planners, legal advisors, environmental
experts, and climate scientists, are valuable collaborators
in identifying potential issues and proposing potential
solutions. New challenges and opportunities may also
emerge as a result of updated policy developments, such
as greenhouse gas offsets and reduction policies and
incentives.
The coordination of the current regulatory landscape with
projected climate change and possible regulatory changes
in response to this change is a large challenge. While
there are few water sector design standards that explicitly
consider climate change, there are recommendations that
consider specific threats related to climate change, such as
technical standards for treatment processes, construction
guidelines for new facilities, and association standards
on other relevant topics. Combined, they can solidify
adaptation planning and increase sector resiliency.
KEY CONCEPTS
 Ensure that federal, state and local policies and
 regulations are considered in light of projected
 climate changes.
' Government and association recommendations can
 inform planning  that balances utility priorities to
 maintain regulatory compliance with their response
 to climate change.
ACTIONS
 Review your state and local regulations and policies to
 ensure compliance with regulations that must be met
 and can be maintained as climate changes. Proactively
 plan for and communicate any potential future issues to
 regulators, as appropriate.
 Maintain awareness of current and future greenhouse-
 gas reduction incentives or policies that may impact
 operations and compliance with regulations that must
 be met.
 Identify and communicate with regulators and local
 officials who can advise or be notified of regulatory
 implications and opportunities related to changing
 climate conditions.
 Research the legal and applicable aspects of the laws:
 contact local association chapters to discuss what
 recommendations they can make for utilities planning
 for certain threats.
RESOURCES
 Water Environment Federation manuals: Complete list includes manuals on energy management, urban runoff, and other
 climate-relevant topics
 American Water Works Association manuals
 American Waterworks Association standards
 Local Government Environmental Assistance Network
 EPA Clean Water and Drinking Water Infrastructure Sustainabilitv Policy
 EPA State & Regional Climate Policy Tracking
 Water Resource Foundation/American Waterworks Association - Building a climate-ready regulatory system
   ADAPTIVE RESPONSE FRAMEWORK. POLICIES
                                      Page?

-------
                   United States
                   Environmental Protection
                   Agency
                                         CLIMATE  READY
                                               WATER UTILITIES
                           Adaptive Response Framework
                Adaptation
Mitigation
Policies
Community
Partnership
Climate
 Ready
COMMUNITY INTEREST & SUPPORT
                                                    eturn to Framewor
OVERVIEW
Both climate change and any actions pursued in response
to climate will affect entire communities. For this reason,
you can benefit from engaging with the community during
development and planning your climate-related strategy.
This engagement is an essential foundation for integrated
and adaptive water resources management, and contributes
towards the goal of building both utility and community
resilience together. Community engagement should be an
open process, where possible, providing opportunities for
both groups to learn, participate, collaborate and contribute
in real and meaningful ways. Community could be defined
based on the rate-paying population, those within the
boundaries of your watershed or any party who would
benefit from potential adaptation plans.
Education is an important component of any community
outreach to ensure that everyone  not only understands
how climate change can affect local water resources, but
also how the utility can respond to those challenges.
Providing this information  creates an opportunity to gauge
community interests and perspectives on climate change
while building a support network. Based on community
response, the utility can tailor public communications and
messaging consistent with the identified interests (e.g.,
websites, surveys and bill inserts). With this type of outreach,
the utility should consistently acknowledge the importance
of climate adaptation action, especially in relation to
planned operational changes.
                        KEY CONCEPTS
                         Climate change impacts, and responses to change
                         implemented by water utilities, both affect the
                         community.
                        ' Collaboration with your community will result in new
                         ideas, public support, and possible partnerships for
                         adaptation plans.
                        ACTIONS
                         Identify key players within your watershed, with a focus
                         on diverse representation.
                         Develop an outreach strategy.
                         Contact stakeholders and use outreach tools to
                         ascertain interest and support in climate change plans.
                         Continue outreach and solicit participation in planning
                         processes.
                         Coordinate actions with the community to better
                         improve water management and increase community
                         resiliency.
RESOURCES
 EPA CRWU Preparing for Extreme Weather Events Workshop Planner for the Water Sector
 ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability
 EPA Surf Your Watershed
 Delaware River Basin Commission
 Community-Based Watershed Management (Ohio State University Fact Sheet)
   ADAPTIVE RESPONSE FRAMEWORK. COMMUNITY
                                                             PageS

-------
                   United States
                   Environmental Protection
                   Agency
                                         CLIMATE  READY
                                               WATER UTILITIES
                           Adaptive Response Framework
                Adaptation
Mitigation
Policies
Community
Partnership
Climate
 Ready
PARTNERSHIPS OUTSIDE OF THE UTILITY
                                                   Return to Framework
OVERVIEW
In addition to building partnerships within the community,
strategic partnerships with key stakeholders (e.g., watershed and
environmental organizations, land use planners, other utilities and
water associations) provide opportunities to leverage your mutual
efforts to accomplish larger and longer-term goals. Partnerships
are very important when a climate change threat poses a shared
risk: groups and even different utilities can advise one another
and share resources for critical situations, such as extreme event
preparedness and emergency response procedures.
These efforts can help create an environment in which local utility
managers will encounter informed and welcoming partners as
they undertake efforts to engage interdependent sectors and
ask for their assistance in building shared responsibility. Through
partnerships you may find greater flexibility to start projects
across the watershed, and increase the reach of project benefits
to improve local economic vitality and community well-being.
For example, a utility and  a watershed organization can form a
partnership to restore the riparian borders along a river to not
only decrease flooding, erosion and sedimentation, but to increase
green spaces, public access to water and public engagement in
protecting source water quality.
RESOURCES
 EPA Region 9 and California Department of Water Resources -
 Climate Change Handbook for Regional Water Planning
 EPA Climate Ready Estuaries (CRE)
 EPA CRWU/CRE - Climate Resilience Evaluation and Awareness
 Tool Exercise with North Hudson Sewerage Authority and New
 York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary Program
 EPA CRWU Preparing for Extreme Weather Events Workshop
 Planner for the Water Sector
                              KEY CONCEPT
                               Partnerships are a critical strategy to coordinate
                               actions and exchange resources and
                               knowledge when responding to shared risks
                               posed by climate change.
   ADAPTIVE RESPONSE FRAMEWORK. PARTNERSHIP
                              ACTIONS
                               Identify and open a dialogue with possible
                               partners outside of your utility to ensure
                               compatibility in goals and challenges related
                               to climate change.
                               Establish formal partnerships.
                               Coordinate plans to address shared climate
                               risks and set goals and a plan of action.
                               Implement, evaluate and publicize
                               coordinated actions.
                               Continue outreach to community and other
                               stakeholders to demonstrate mutually
                               beneficial results and maintain an integrated
                               and adaptive approach.


                                                             Page 9

-------
      Adaptive Response Framework for
   Drinking Water and Wastewater Utilities
             CLIMATE READY
                 ..WATER UTILITIES
Office of Water (4608-T) EPA817-F-12-009 www.epa.gov/watersecurity November 2012

-------