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Implications of Future Water Supply Sources for Energy Demands

Project: 08-16
Year Released: 2012
Type: Decision Making Tool

Program: Principal
Funding Partner: Bureau of Reclamation, California State Water Resources Control Board
Total Investment: $356,168.76 (Cash: $195,169.66, In-Kind: $160,999.10)

Principal Investigators: Heather Cooley, Pacific Institute, and Robert Wilkinson, University of California at Santa Barbara

Background

Water management decisions can have significant energy impacts. Water use requires energy in all phases, from collection to treatment to distribution to use to wastewater treatment. Multiple factors will influence the energy intensity of the water sector in the near future: climate change will affect water supply, quality, and demand, potentially creating a need for new water supply options; population growth, water use patterns, technology, and price all affect water demand; and emerging contaminants may require more energy-intensive treatment technologies.

Water managers are also faced with rising energy costs and limits on greenhouse gas emissions. These trends highlight the need for a clear and consistent methodology for evaluating the energy and greenhouse gas implications of water management decisions.

Goals and Objectives

The project created a user-friendly tool that allows water and energy managers to evaluate the energy and greenhouse gas implications associated with water management decisions. The tool is scalable, suitable for individual water utilities, groups of water utilities, as well as policy- and decision-makers.

Research Approach

The Water-Energy Simulator (WESim) provides a common framework for the user to explore alternative water and energy scenarios. For example, users can compare the energy and greenhouse gas implications of using recycled water versus seawater desalination. Alternatively, the user can explore the implications of installing ozone disinfection at a water treatment facility or biogas recovery at a wastewater treatment facility. A user might evaluate ways to offset energy use and greenhouse gas emissions by installing renewable energy generation or investing in water conservation and efficiency.

The model has been designed to allow the user to input actual operating data for water and energy use, as this will allow for an analysis that better reflects operating conditions. However, we recognize that not all users will have this information. To facilitate use of the model, we provide defaults for the energy requirements of various components of the water and wastewater system.

Findings and Conclusions

WESim is an easy-to-use analytical tool that allows users to evaluate the energy and greenhouse gas implications of population growth, the impact of climate change, the development of alternative water and energy sources, and water treatment improvements resulting from stricter water-quality guidelines and emerging contaminants. This tool is suitable for individual water utilities and groups of water utilities, as well as policy and decision makers. This report provides background information on the model, including its basic form and structure. A detailed user guide for WESim is included as a companion to this report.

WESim provides a common framework for users to explore alternative scenarios. For example, users can compare the energy and greenhouse gas implications of using recycled water versus seawater desalination. Alternatively, users can explore the implications of installing ozone disinfection at a water treatment facility or biogas recovery at a wastewater treatment facility. A user might evaluate ways to offset energy use and greenhouse gas emissions by installing renewable energy generation or investing in water conservation and efficiency.

WESim is a Microsoft® Excel workbook with a number of macros to facilitate data entry, calculation, and display of results. As you work, the information that you input will be stored in a Microsoft Access database file. The workbook is compatible with Excel 2000 and later versions on PC computers. WESim has not been tested on Macintosh computers. You must also have Microsoft Access installed on your computer.

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