In the United States around 40 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity is used per year in the delivery and treatment of drinking water. Of that pumping comprises 90% of the total consumption. What this figure does not include is the cost of ‘importing’ water: in California around 9 TWh of electricity is used alone for long-distance conveyance.
With climate change droughts and extreme weather events projected to lower water availability for cooling of thermoelectric power stations and impact hydropower generation, which in turn lowers the availability of electricity to import water, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) has developed the Water Conservation Technical Assistance Program that offers commercial, industrial, institutional and multi-family customers a customized approach to reducing their water, and energy bills.
LA cutting the costs of importing water
Through the program LADWP works one-on-one with customers to modernize their facility with the latest water-efficient equipment. The program offers up to $250,000 in financial incentives for pre-approved equipment and products that demonstrate water savings. The actual incentive amount is based on the water savings accomplished by the project, with the incentive calculated at $1.75 per 1,000 gallons of water saved over a number of years – not to exceed the installed cost of the project – with customers receiving a rebate following verification of installation and operation of pre-approved projects.
With climate change impacting availability of water for electricity generation, which in turn impacts the availability of energy for pumping, treating and distributing water, utilities need to develop innovative incentives to help customers reduce demand for both water and energy.
*Robert C. Brears is the author of Urban Water Security (Wiley). Urban Water Security argues that, with climate change and rapid urbanization, cities need to transition from supply-side to demand-side management to achieve urban water security.