U.S. Congress Orders Water-Energy Research

The U.S. Government Accountability Office, a Congressional research agency, recently released a report on energy use in the urban water sector. Not prone to idle talk, the GAO strikes at the heart of the matter in the report’s sub-title: the “Amount of Energy Needed to Supply, Use, and Treat Water Is Location-Specific and Can Be Reduced by Certain Technologies and Approaches.”  As the summary of the report notes:

“…Comprehensive data about the energy needed for each stage of the urban water lifecycle are limited. In particular, few nationwide studies have been conducted on the amount of energy used to provide drinking water and wastewater services, and these studies do not consider all stages of the lifecycle in their analysis. Specialists GAO spoke with emphasized that the energy demands of the urban water lifecycle vary by location. Considering location-specific and other key factors is necessary to assess energy needs. The specialists mentioned such factors as the topography of the area over which water is conveyed, the level and type of treatment provided, and the quality of the source water. For example, systems relying on groundwater as their source for drinking water generally use less energy than systems relying on surface water because groundwater usually contains fewer contaminants and, therefore, requires less treatment before distribution to customers.

A variety of technologies and approaches can improve the energy efficiency of drinking water and wastewater processes, but barriers exist to their adoption. Installing more efficient equipment, adopting water conservation measures, and upgrading infrastructure are among some of the approaches that can decrease energy use, according to specialists GAO spoke with and studies GAO reviewed. For example, technologies to identify potential pipeline leaks throughout water systems can reduce water loss and the energy required to pump and treat that “lost” water. However, according to specialists, adoption of technologies and approaches to improve energy efficiency may be hindered by the costs of retrofitting plants with more energy-efficient equipment and competing priorities at treatment facilities, among other barriers.”

This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 26th, 2011 at 3:38 pm and is filed under Uncategorized.  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. 

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About This Blog And Its Author
As the scarcity of water and energy continues to grow, the linkage between these two critical resources will become more defined and even more acute in the months ahead.  This blog is committed to analyzing and referencing articles, reports, and interviews that can help unlock the nascent, complex and expanding linkages between water and energy -- The Watergy Nexus -- and will endeavor to provide a central clearinghouse for insightful articles and comments for all to consider.

Educated at Yale University (Bachelor of Arts - History) and Harvard (Master in Public Policy - International Development), Monty Simus has held a lifelong interest in environmental and conservation issues, primarily as they relate to freshwater scarcity, renewable energy, and national park policy.  Working from a water-scarce base in Las Vegas with his wife and son, he is the founder of Water Politics, an organization dedicated to the identification and analysis of geopolitical water issues arising from the world’s growing and vast water deficits, and is also a co-founder of SmartMarkets, an eco-preneurial venture that applies web 2.0 technology and online social networking innovations to motivate energy & water conservation.  He previously worked for an independent power producer in Central Asia; co-authored an article appearing in the Summer 2010 issue of the Tulane Environmental Law Journal, titled: “The Water Ethic: The Inexorable Birth Of A Certain Alienable Right”; and authored an article appearing in the inaugural issue of Johns Hopkins University's Global Water Magazine in July 2010 titled: “H2Own: The Water Ethic and an Equitable Market for the Exchange of Individual Water Efficiency Credits.”