As part of a broad push toward greater environmental sustainability, Metropolitan Water District’s Board of Directors today voted to approve a set of strategies to cut its greenhouse gas emissions and achieve carbon neutrality by 2045.
The Climate Action Plan identifies actions to reduce Metropolitan’s carbon footprint in the face of climate change, increasing the district’s climate resiliency and energy independence while supporting California’s GHG reduction goals.
“Climate change is not just about the environment, it is about protecting the future for our communities,” board Chairwoman Gloria D. Gray said. “It is our responsibility to address the urgent threats we face due to climate change so that Southern Californians will continue to have clean, reliable drinking water and a good quality of life.”
The CAP helps Metropolitan reach California’s aggressive goals to cut GHG emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2030 and achieve complete carbon neutrality by 2045. The plan sets targets and strategies for reducing GHG emissions from Metropolitan’s operations, including its conveyance, storage, treatment and delivery of water throughout its 5,200 square-mile Southern California service area.
Strategies include phasing out natural gas combustion at district facilities, transitioning to a zero-emissions vehicle fleet, utilizing carbon-free electricity, improving energy efficiency, increasing waste diversion to achieve zero waste, increasing water conservation and local supplies, and evaluating carbon capture and sequestration opportunities.
“It is clear that our climate is already rapidly changing. We’re seeing it right before our eyes with the extraordinary drought we are facing today,” said Metropolitan General Manager Adel Hagekhalil. “The impacts on our water supplies will change the way we provide our services and operate our water system. The CAP will ensure we are part of the solution to prevent further stresses to our climate.”
The comprehensive plan, led by Metropolitan’s new Sustainability, Resiliency and Innovation Office, will guide policy and planning decisions on operations, water resources, capital investments, and conservation and resource programs, while mitigating the GHG impacts from Metropolitan’s operations and future capital projects under the California Environmental Quality Act.
“These strategies will help improve our infrastructure reliability, give us greater energy resiliency and provide cost-effective solutions for energy purchases and maintenance,” Chairwoman Gray said.
Metropolitan has already been making progress on its commitment to greater sustainability and resiliency. Through a partnership with the Clean Power Alliance, the agency recently switched to 100 percent green power at several of its smaller meters and operational sites, reducing its GHG emissions by about 100 tons annually, equivalent to the amount of carbon absorbed by 118 acres of forest in one year. Metropolitan has also switched over 300 of its Southern California Edison accounts to 100 percent Green Power Rates to purchase renewable energy. This amounts to over 11,900,000 kWh of annual use which represents the annual electricity consumption of 1,400 average households.
Metropolitan has also approved more than $840 million in conservation and local resource programs, funded over $350 million in turf-removal program rebates, installed solar facilities at its Joseph Jensen, Robert A. Skinner and Frank E. Weymouth water treatment plants, and approved battery energy storage systems at the Jensen and Skinner plants.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a state-established cooperative that, along with its 26 cities and retail suppliers, provides water for 19 million people in six counties. The district imports water from the Colorado River and Northern California to supplement local supplies, and helps its members to develop increased water conservation, recycling, storage and other resource-management programs.