New resource added to Energy Services Water Conservation page

Coal, the most abundant fossil fuel, currently accounts for 52 percent of US electricity generation, and each kilowatt-hour generated from coal requires withdrawal of 25 gallons of water. That means US citizens may indirectly depend upon as much water turning on the lights and running appliances as they directly use taking showers and watering lawns.

Photo by Sandia National Laboratory
(Photo by Sandia National Laboratory)

Utilities can expect water conservation to play a growing role in their efforts to comply with the Clean Power Plan. In fact, Water/Energy Nexus: Claiming Energy Savings for Water Measures and the Associated Calculations was chosen by utilities as a topic for the pre-forum workshops You are leaving Western's site. at the Utility Energy Forum.

Working out these issues will take time, but you don’t have to wait to encourage your customers to save water. Summer is the season for gardening, swimming and—yes—extra showers, so take a moment now to explore Energy Services’ Water Conservation resources. This page is loaded with information about drought management, irrigation and water-saving tips for commercial and residential customers.

In that last category is a new resource from the Southwest Florida Water Management District You are leaving Western's site. that could help motivate your customers to get on board with a water conservation program. The Water Use Calculator is an easy-to-use tool that allows the user figure out how much water they consume at home, both individually and as a family.

Most people will be surprised—even a little alarmed—to discover how much water everyday activities use (the Energy Service staff was, and we think about these things a lot). Try placing the link on your website or running it in your online newsletter to get your customers’ attention. Then follow it up with customer communication on tips for cutting down water consumption, such as Water Use it Wisely You are leaving Western's site. for residential customers. You can find those resources on the Water Conservation page as well.

While you are there, check out the information on water efficiency for commercial and agricultural customers. This customer segment is already motivated to cut water use, so be ready to help them with Best Management Practices for Water Efficiency and Water Efficiency Case Studies.

For many utilities, water conservation is already an important part of their resource management activities. If you have a favorite tip sheet, calculator or strategy for determining savings, share it with Energy Services. Once an esoteric concept, the water-energy nexus is now everybody’s business.

Data, coordination needed to unlock energy savings in water conservation

The water-energy nexus has received more attention lately, especially from Western customers grappling with long-term drought in their service territory. We understand the connection between the two resources: Producing electricity requires water, and moving, treating and re-treating water requires energy. Undoubtedly, there are opportunities to create cross-cutting conservation strategies, but so far, utilities and policymakers have paid little attention.

Watts in a Drop of Water: Savings at the Water-Energy Nexus,Redirecting to a non-government site a new paper from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), seeks to quantify the water-energy nexus across a range of energy intensities for water and wastewater services. It also examines the potential avoided energy consumption from water efficiency programs and provides estimates of the possible energy savings.

One barrier to creating a program template or sharing best practices is that the range of water’s energy intensity varies widely from system to system. This is largely due to differences in size of the water systems, pumping requirements between geographic locations and raw water characteristics. Drawing from existing data, the paper develops national estimates of energy savings associated with conserving water throughout the processes of conveyance, heating and water and sewage treatment. The data show a dramatic range of energy intensity, particularly in the water service sector (source, conveyance and treatment).

Another problem the paper identifies is that there is a lack of raw data on energy use by water and wastewater facilities across the country. Traditionally, energy and water utilities have siloed priorities, focusing only on delivering their respective products.

However, with increased interest in using energy efficiency to meet greenhouse gas and other pollutant standards, utilities and air regulators should be looking for every opportunity to achieve greater savings. The authors found that some local and state jurisdictions are seeking better documentation of water-energy interactions to facilitate more integrated program development and evaluation.

ACEEE concludes that there is a big opportunity for savings, but much more work needed to achieve them. Utilities and regulators need more data along, with solid methods to calculate energy savings from water conservation. If energy and water utilities are willing to collaborate on innovative projects, the benefits, particularly in states facing severe droughts,Redirecting to a non-government site would be huge.