Friday, June 20, 2008

Water Industry’s Role in Reducing Greenhouse Gases and Promoting Energy Savings

A Presentation from California's Water Energy Climate Action Team (WETCAT)
May 29, 2008

Craig Gaites and Mallika Kumar

This presentation emphasized the role of the water industry in achieving the goals of Assembly Bill 32 (AB 32). Water conservation will be a major component of emissions reduction as 19% of all electricity generated in California is used for the production, treatment, and conveyance of water and 33% of non-power plant natural gas is used for water production, treatment and conveyance.

AB 32 requires a 173 million metric ton reduction in carbon emissions. Currently the state’s Climate Action Team (CAT) has identified ways to cut 72 million tons of emissions. The CAT’s plan is designed to be non-punitive and to stimulate the cleantech economy in California. The plan will be designed to prevent emissions “leakage” (the migration of emissions intensive industries out of California) and will be an example for other states to follow. The plan will likely employ each of the following mechanisms: Market Driven Emissions Controls (Cap and Trade, Carbon Offsets, etc…), Incentives and Rebates, and Direct Regulation of Industry.

The plan will be released on June 26th, 2008. Workshops will be held throughout the state in July.

A supplement to the plan explaining the analysis that went into the plan will be released in late-July. Workshops on the related to the plan supplement will be held in August.

The WETCAT is the arm of the CAT tasked with identifying emissions reduction strategies associated with water conservation. The WETCAT has identified five likely strategies for achieving emissions reduction through water conservation:

1. Water Recycling
The CAT plan may include a mandate that up to 32% of all treated wastewater be used for direct reuse. Wastewater can be used for agriculture, irrigation, industrial cooling, wetland restoration, groundwater recharge, etc…

2. Urban Water Reuse
This strategy involves the capture and utilization of rainwater for non-potable water uses. It also involves the capture of runoff from urban irrigation and other outdoor water uses. Water can also be detained for percolation, or redirected to high permeability areas for percolation, and then recaptured via groundwater wells or simply be used to increase ambient soil moisture and reduce irrigation demands. Modification of existing storm water collection infrastructure will likely be mandated in the plan.

3. Water Conservation Planning
This strategy seeks improvement of water use efficiency through improvement of the water use planning process. WETCAT estimates that a water use reduction of 20% of the current water use can be achieved through improved planning.

4. Improve Efficiency of States Water Delivery Infrastructure
This strategy involves reducing the amount of water lost and energy used during the conveyance of water. The strategy will seek to incorporate energy generation into the conveyance process to offset emissions by producing clean energy.

5. Improve Efficiency of Water Treatment Processes
This strategy involves reducing energy use during the wastewater treatment process and will mirror strategy 4. This strategy will seek to incorporate energy generation into the treatment process to offset emissions by producing clean energy.

Learn more at California's Climate Change portal:

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