American Water customers, take note: Just before announcing an acquisition that expands its presence in the government market, the nation's largest for-profit water and wastewater utility declared its intention to lower greenhouse gas emissions 16% by 2017.

The environmentally friendly proclamation came 11 days before American Water bought Environmental Management Corp. (EMC), a contract-operations firm that's served public wastewater and water operations since 1980. EMC has 55 customers -- including Monmouth, Ill., one of the subjects of our February 2007 cover story -- in the United States and Canada.

Like public water providers, American Water plans to cut down on energy use by improving operational efficiencies. The company, which treats and delivers about 1 billion gallons of water a day, estimates that 90% of emissions come from the energy it uses to pump water.

ITT Corp., maker of Flygt brand pumps, estimates that the pumps and motors that drive aeration generate 45 million tons of greenhouse gases annually.

"Our research indicates that if we increase our average pumping efficiency by 10% over the next several years, we'll be able to reach our goal," says American Water CEO Don Correll. "It'll take time to evaluate, replace, and refurbish the pumps in our systems, but we're proud to be the first water and wastewater company in the country to establish a goal like this."

This goal was approved by the EPA's Climate Leaders, an industry-government partnership that develops comprehensive climate change strategies, on Nov. 30. Participating companies inventory emissions based on a quality management system and report their progress annually.

American Water believes it will complete its planning and data gathering next year and begin to implement its strategy vis-à-vis pump operations by 2011.