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Playing cards and chips

Water Industry CO2 Cuts: Playing the Long Game

Playing cards and chipsAmerican Water has taken a cautious approach to reporting on its recent carbon reductions. In its line of work, uncertainty is a way of life.

As our analysis of the company’s 2011-2012 corporate responsibility report shows, the company cut its absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 16.7 percent from 2007 to 2012 – beating a targeted 16 percent reduction set for 2017.

But the company isn’t crying “victory” yet. In the water business, fluctuation is to be expected, director of innovation and environmental stewardship Mark LeChavallier tells Environmental Leader PRO.

On the one hand, the company did well to find the reductions it did last year.

“2012 was a pretty hot year, and we pumped a lot of water,” LeChevallier says. “Typically when you have to start putting on supplies you don’t use all the time, you may not have the same efficiency. So we hope this year, which is actually a wetter year, the process will be more efficient.”

But for a water company, efficiency improvements have to happen over the long term. “We have lots of pumps we can’t take out of service for maintenance all at the same time… and we can’t take them out most of the year, like during the summer,” LeChevallier says. ”I’d like us to be quicker, but the reality is there are only certain windows in the year. I think we’re moving in the right direction, but this effort is going to be a ten-year project.”

Tamar Wilner is Senior Editor at Environmental Leader PRO.

Read more about the intersection of climate and water in this column by Mark LeChevallier.

Picture credit: Viri G via flickr

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