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Sustainable Water Infrastructure Contacts

Pacific Southwest, Region 9

Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations

Water & Energy Efficiency in Water and Wastewater Facilities

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Economic Benefits

Why consider energy conservation at your wastewater facility? Economics and the environment, of course! Energy conservation can improve your bottom line. Cost-savings from reduced energy use and increased operational efficiency can save time and money. There are many different types of processes and fuel sources –like upgrading to energy efficient motors, installing clean energy sources, and/or capturing biogas for combined heat and power generation– that will make your facility more efficient.

Rather than investing in co-generation, smaller facilities can become more energy efficient by installing solar panels or other clean energy sources. Upgrading to energy efficient motors, using clean energy sources, and/or capturing biogas for heat and power generation are all possibilities for saving both money and time.

Large facilities that have, or are planning to install, anaerobic digesters may consider capturing the biogas byproduct to either fuel their facility, sell, or both. As the price of energy rises, the potential for creating energy at your waste water treatment facility will become more and more attractive as a way to reduce costs.

Below are some case studies of wastewater treatment facilities in California that have invested in energy conservation practices and improved their bottom line.

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  • Encina Wastewater Authority staff decided energy efficiency was the best way to operate economically. They developed a comprehensive energy conservation management program (PDF) (3 pp, 32K, About PDF) for their entire facility from demand control to lighting retrofits. Encina's energy efficient strategies save them $611,600 per year.
  • Since the 1980s East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) (PDF) (3 pp, 52K) has explored and implemented strategies to increase the system's energy efficiency. EBMUD has upgraded equipment and process methods to reduce energy costs resulting in savings of $2,796,000 per year.
  • Inland Empire Utilities Agency This Ontario, CA facility upgraded in 2001. In designing the upgrade, Inland Empire evaluated the energy efficiency of their pumping system. They retrofitted pumps with high efficiency motors, improving equipment life and increasing pump efficiency. The result? They cut energy use by 475,000 kWh, saved $57,000 in annual energy costs and an additional $14,000 in annual maintenance costs, and eliminated 200,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Millbrae, CA is an example of a facility that is more energy efficient while also improving water quality performance. Grease causes sewage overflow spills when it clogs up sewer lines, releasing raw sewage into the environment. By finding a way to use the grease to produce fuel that powers the wastewater treatment facility, they demonstrate that energy efficiency can also improve treatment performance.

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