We are planning to mitigate the effects of climate change on our infrastructure that supports our lives, environment, businesses and public services. Climate Change will make us work harder and more wisely to deliver better water resources and drainage infrastructure, and conservation of water and sustainable drainage systems.
Climate Change refers to variation in climate over a period of time. Scientists have been recording temperature changes, wind and rainfall patterns for hundreds of years and the predicted trends on a global scale and national scale indicate that we will see increases in temperatures, less defined seasons, more extreme weather events (flooding and drought), rising sea levels, and habitat and biodiversity loss.
The observations in climate change are due to a combination of both natural and human causes. The natural causes are interactions between the ocean and the atmosphere, changes in the Earth’s orbit, fluctuations in energy received from the sun and volcanic eruptions. Increasingly so, it is evident that human influence is likely to be greenhouse gas emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane.
The water industry is very energy demanding (increasing emissions of CO2 and methane). With higher standards set for achieving better water/wastewater quality and treatment and population demand, the industry is seeing a notable increase in energy consumption levels. We recognise our impact on climate change and we are measuring and managing our energy use and greenhouse gas emissions through our environmental management systems. We have set targets to reduce our energy consumption levels and to increase our purchase of green electricity. We currently exceed our target of sourcing 8% of green energy by 2008. We are now looking at the options available to us to produce more energy in house through use of hydro and wind turbines. We are also conducting pilot studies on the viability of using bio-fuels in our fleet operations. We are working closely with Water UK and experts in this field to see what we can do better. We meet with other water companies at this forum to help develop a carbon accounting system so that we know what our carbon footprint is and how to reduce it. Check out your carbon footprint at www.carbonfootprint.com/carbonsoftware.html.
Looking towards the future, we are investing heavily in the improvement of the infrastructure with upgrades and repairs so that our systems can cope with the prospects of extreme flooding and drought. Major improvements are underway across the province e.g. the Belfast Sewers Project (Storm water management) and the North Down Strategic Trunk Main. Planning for the future under the NIAMP3 is also underway, predicting the requirements and demands that will be placed on our systems.
With the prospect of changing temperatures, habitats and species are likely to change. In order to conserve and enhance the environment, we have developed a biodiversity plan and have built sustainability into the delivery of our services. We liaise with environmental non-governmental organizations and local authorities to protect habitats on our landholdings. We as an organisation endeavor to do our best to rectify any negative actions we impose on the environment and climate. As one part of a large community, we are all responsible for our actions towards climate change.
You can help us in our quest to look after our environment. For further information, please see Bag It and Bin It.