The Race to Zero Emissions—US Water Utilities and the Water Technology Alliance, D.C., Convene in Denmark on the eve of COP27

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Water use and management are estimated to be responsible for up to 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Transatlantic benchmarking and knowledge exchange aims to help U.S. water utilities achieve Net Zero emissions. Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District is a member of the delegation.

Nov 7, 2022—OAKLAND, CA & MADISON, WI — Representatives from 10 U.S. water and wastewater utilities, including Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District, are in Denmark as part of a five-day greenhouse gas emissions and climate resilience benchmarking tour. The site visit is part of a multi-year partnership between the Water Technology Alliance based out of the Embassy of Denmark in Washington, D.C., the Danish Water and Wastewater Association, and the US Water Alliance to share best practices, develop innovative solutions, and accelerate the “Race to Zero” emissions campaign across the water sector.

“Partnerships across national borders are vital in the effort to mitigate climate change. The climate crisis is borderless, and no country can solve it alone. The water sector is a significant contributor in building a sustainable future, and that is why we are thrilled to learn from the inspiring work the US Water Alliance is doing for the US water sector, as well as share our extensive experience with optimizing water management in Denmark. Together we can work to reach Net Zero,” says Christina Markus Lassen, Ambassador of Denmark to The United States.

“Water and wastewater utilities across Denmark are leaders in advancing sensible solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and building more climate resilient communities,” says Mami Hara, CEO of the US Water Alliance. “With less than a decade remaining to stem the climate tide, learning from one another and benchmarking across our geographies is critically important.”

Globally, water use and management are estimated to be responsible for up to 10% of greenhouse gas emissions. In the U.S. alone, energy consumption used for drinking and wastewater services emits more than 45 million tons of greenhouse gas annually. In a bipartisan agreement, the Danish parliament has set a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 70% by 2030. Additionally, the Danish water sector has set its own goal of becoming climate positive in 2030.

Danish utilities have worked for decades to optimize water management using benchmarking for energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. By joining this peer exchange and learning from their Danish counterparts, U.S. utilities are gaining needed access to time-tested solutions, benchmarking capabilities, and new partners.

“Greenhouse gas emissions know no boundaries, and neither should our learning and partnerships,” says Kishia Powell, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President at DC Water and Chair of the US Water Alliance’s One Water Council. “We’ve been working on our emissions reduction strategy, but what we will learn from this trip can help us advance our climate mitigation via firsthand engagement with our U.S. and Danish counterparts.”

Michael Mucha, Chief Engineer and Director of Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District adds that the District has a long history of innovation and conversation, and stepping up climate mitigation efforts is a next step.

“Our friends in Denmark are truly setting the standard for emission reduction in the water and wastewater sector,” says Mucha. “Wastewater conveyance and treatment is an energy-intensive process and requires constant, reliable power sources in the face of a changing climate. I look forward to learning from our U.S. and Danish counterparts and bringing back actionable steps we can take at the District to curb our own greenhouse gas contributions.”

Other participating U.S. utilities include DC Water, Denver Water, KC Water, Metropolitan Council Environmental Services, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department, New York City Department of Environmental Protection, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, Portland Water Bureau, and Seattle Public Utilities.

To learn more about the US Water Alliance’s Climate Action program and Net Zero Plus call-to-action, visit here.

To learn more about wastewater treatment in Denmark, read State of Green’s white paper.


Partnership among the US Water Alliance, Danish Water and Wastewater Association and The Embassy of Denmark in Washington, D.C.: In the effort to pave the way for Net Zero emissions and a resilient water sector, the US Water Alliance, the Embassy of Denmark in Washington, D.C., and the Danish Water and Wastewater Association signed a new Memorandum of Understanding on April 27, 2022. The agreement supports transatlantic efforts to lower climate impacts in the water sector through cross-cultural learning on climate mitigation strategies to reduce GHG emissions across water management and operations.

About the Danish Water Technology Alliance: The Water Technology Alliance (WTA) is a Danish public-private partnership committed to bridging the gap between the North American and Danish water sectors to share Danish know-how and foster collaboration. The Alliance is a part of The Trade Council at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, and the partners include public Danish water utilities, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency, and leading technology and service providers. Through visits, workshops and fact-finding trips, the WTA provides specialized knowledge about Danish solutions. Furthermore, the WTA facilitates and supports collaboration, pilot and flagship projects. Read more about the Danish Water Technology Alliance.

About the Danish Water and Wastewater Association, DANVA: DANVA, Danish Water and Wastewater Association is a national industry and stakeholder organization for Denmark’s drinking water and wastewater utilities. The organization is non-profit and engages in several international water communities, such as the International Water Association IWA. Read more about DANVA.

About the US Water Alliance: The US Water Alliance advances policies and programs to secure a sustainable water future for all. Established in 2008, the Alliance is a nonprofit organization that educates the nation on the true value of water and water equity, accelerates the adoption of One Water principles and solutions, and celebrates innovation in water management. The Alliance brings together diverse interests to identify and advance common-ground, achievable solutions to our nation’s most pressing water challenges. Our nearly 200 members and partners include community leaders, water providers, public officials, business leaders, environmental organizations, policy organizations, and more. Learn more on the US Water Alliance website, and follow the US Water Alliance on Twitter and LinkedIn.