Exploring the nexus between energy use and water infrastructure

Reducing climate impacts, saving money, and saving water are the goals of recent Office of Water efforts to make the most of the nexus between energy use and water infrastructure. Providing drinking water and wastewater services to citizens across the nation requires a lot of energy. The ENERGY STAR program estimates that about $4 billion is spent annually for energy costs to run drinking water and wastewater utilities...

March 3, 2008 -- Reducing climate impacts, saving money, and saving water are the goals of recent Office of Water efforts to make the most of the nexus between energy use and water infrastructure.

Providing drinking water and wastewater services to citizens across the nation requires a lot of energy. The ENERGY STAR program estimates that about $4 billion is spent annually for energy costs to run drinking water and wastewater utilities. Agency efforts on water and energy include our broad outreach to promote water efficiency through the WaterSense program, as well as a suite of activities and tools that focus on energy use at utilities. In our work with the water utility industry, we can encourage them to identify approaches to integrate energy efficient practices into their daily management and long-term planning.

The following are links that highlight the connection between water and energy:
• Memorandum from the Assistant Administrator for Water to the Regional Administrators: http://www.epa.gov/waterinfrastructure/pdfs/memo_si_bengrumbles_nexus-between-water-energy_02142008.pdf

• Information on infrastructure and energy: http://www.epa.gov/waterinfrastructure/bettermanagement_energy.html
• Information on the benefits of water efficiency including energy savings: http://www.epa.gov/watersense/water/benefits.htm
• A step-by-step workbook for utilities entitled "Ensuring a Sustainable Future: An Energy Management Guidebook for Wastewater and Water Utilities" and information on workshops on the workbook: http://www.epa.gov/waterinfrastructure/bettermanagement_energy.html,
http://www.peercenter.net, and http://www.energystar.gov

The ENERGY STAR program recently added drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities to its Portfolio Manager -- an interactive energy management tool that can be used to track and assess energy and water consumption. See http://www.energystar.gov/waterwastewater

Combined heat and power is a reliable, cost-effective option for wastewater treatment facilities that have, or are planning to install, anaerobic digesters. Biogas flow from these digesters can be used as "free" fuel to generate reliable electricity and power. For a guide that highlights the opportunities and benefits see: http://www.epa.gov/chp/markets/wastewater.html

For fact sheets that describe various alternative energy sources that utilities may want to consider see: http://www.epa.gov/owm/mtb/mtbfact.htm

###

More in Energy Management