One state is leading the way on dealing with this issue and will hopefully serve as an example for others to follow:
Energy experts across the country are starting to look at just how the nation’s water supply systems affect electricity consumption, the strain they put on grids and the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that come from the treatment and transporting of water. It was one of the topics at the 2009 Water Smart Innovations conference held in Las Vegas this month.
About 25 percent of America’s electricity goes to moving and treating water, according to a 2005 California Energy Commission report.
California passed a law three years ago that is aimed, in part, at the electricity burned to move and treat water. The legislation requires greenhouse gas reduction for water utilities, which have been instructed to make their operations more energy efficient and to incorporate renewable energy. With population growth, demand for water and water treatment are expected to grow. At the same time water treatment standards are expected to become stricter. That all adds up to a prediction that the energy demand for water will continue to grow significantly.With climate change legislation looming on the horizon, southwestern states in particular will need to address this issue in the near future. Las Vegas could benefit greatly considering that the "amount of electricity used to move and treat water in Southern Nevada annually is enough to power the entire valley several times over."
Fortunately, managers of the area's water utilities are aware of the issue and working towards moving to more sustainable energy sources.
Henderson plans to have the first local wastewater treatment facility using renewable power. The city recently got federal funding to build a 4-megawatt solar installation to help power its wastewater treatment facilities and to install turbines in some of its downhill-sloping water pipes to generate electricity emission-free from the flowing water.
They've also acknowledged that new, mulit-billion dollar infrastructure projects aren't the only component of the solution and are encouraging residents to get on board and implement common sense water conservation measures. After all, less water used translates directly into reduced costs, reduced electrical use and generation, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Or as they put it:
Those changes could do a lot more good — in many more ways — than most people realize.