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American Water withdrawal by source

American Water Sustainability Report: Meets 2017 GHG Goal Early

American Water GHG absoluteAmerican Water last year beat its goal of a 16 percent reduction in greenhouse gases from a 2007 baseline, for which it had a target completion date of 2017. Since 2007, scope 1 and 2 GHGs have fallen 16.7 percent, from 853,676 to 710,878 tons.

But the company’s 2011-2012 corporate responsibility report does not trumpet this milestone, or even describe it as a goal achieved. American Water prefers to remain cautious.

“The trend is in the right direction, but you can see from year to year there is a little variation,” director of innovation and environmental stewardship Mark LeChevallier says. “We’re still focusing on efficiency and that’s going to be a long-term process.” (More from our interview with LeChevallier here.)

The company, which is the largest publicly traded water and wastewater utility in the US, aims to cut its GHG emissions through water conservation and improvements to water pump energy efficiency.

On an absolute basis, scope 1 and 2 GHGs fell in both of the past two years, from 800,655 tons GHGe (also known as carbon dioxide equivalent, or CO2e) in 2010, to 790,922 in 2011 and 710,878 in 2012.

GHG emissions intensity, meanwhile, fell 5.3 percent since 2007. Intensity rose by 2.8 percent from 2010 to 2011, to 4.6 pounds CO2e per thousand gallons of water sold, then fell 8.6 percent from 2011 to 2012, to 4.2 pounds CO2e per kgal.

American Water CO2 intensity

The company’s direct emissions make up a small proportion of the total intensity. Direct emissions rose 11 percent from 0.36 pounds per kgal in 2010 to 0.4 pounds in 2011, then fell 7.5 percent to 0.37 pounds in 2012.

Indirect emissions intensity, meanwhile, rose 2 percent from 4.12 pounds per kgal in 2010 to 4.2 pounds in 2011, then fell 9 percent to 3.83 pounds in 2012.

American water GHG direct and indirect

Report overview

The document is American Water’s second biennial corporate responsibility report, and covers the 2011 and 2012 calendar years.

The data covers all of the company’s regulated utility operations and, where relevant, data from its market-based businesses, which include water reuse; design, build, and operation of water and wastewater facilities; and contract operations. American Water self-declared the report at GRI Application Level B.

The report provides a variety of metrics, although the company has left off some key units. “CO2e/kgal sales” should be “pounds CO2e/kgal sales,” and “GHGe” should be “tons GHGe,” LeChevallier confirmed. He blamed the error on a typo.

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