Energy use for urban water management by utilities and households in Los Angeles

Erik Porse, Kathryn B Mika, Alvar Escriva-Bou, Eric D Fournier, Kelly T Sanders, Edward Spang, Jennifer Stokes-Draut, Felicia Federico, Mark Gold and Stephanie Pincetl

Reducing energy consumption for urban water management may yield economic and environmental benefits. Few studies provide comprehensive assessments of energy needs for urban water sectors that include both utility operations and household use. Here, we evaluate the energy needs for urban water management in metropolitan Los Angeles (LA) County. Using planning scenarios that include both water conservation and alternative supply options, we estimate energy requirements of water imports, groundwater pumping, distribution in pipes, water and wastewater treatment, and residential water heating across more than one hundred regional water agencies covering over 9 million people. Results show that combining water conservation with alternative local supplies such as storm water capture and water reuse (non-potable or indirect potable) can reduce the energy consumption and intensity of water management in LA. Further advanced water treatment for direct potable reuse could increase energy needs. In aggregate, water heating represents a major source of regional energy consumption. The heating factor associated with grid-supplied electricity drives the relative contribution of energy-for-water by utilities and households. For most scenarios of grid operations, energy for household water heating significantly outweighs utility energy consumption. The study demonstrates how publicly available and detailed data for energy and water use supports sustainability planning. The method is applicable to cities everywhere.

Published Work | 2020 | Environmental Energy Communications

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