The WaCCliM project has developed the Energy Performance and Carbon Assessment and Monitoring Tool (ECAM) to drive GHG emission reduction in water utilities, while keeping a strong emphasis on energy savings to reduce costs. It is designed to assess the carbon emissions that utilities can control within the urban water cycle and prepares utilities for future reporting needs on climate mitigation.
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are driving climate change. Changes in our climate directly impact the availability and quality of water, creating unprecedented challenges for drinking water and wastewater utilities. Water utilities are also a source of global GHG emissions from energy consumption, as well as nitrous oxide and methane emissions in wastewater systems.
The ability of water utilities to take effective climate mitigation action by reducing their GHG emissions is complex. Among other aspects, it relies on an adapted policy framework that incentivises the utility, access to support, right competences to identify and implement improvements, etc. Additionally, having a simple and reliable GHG accounting makes it easier for drinking water and wastewater utilities to report on the progress towards carbon neutrality.
Drinking water and wastewater companies spend up to 35 percent of their total operational costs on energy. These operating costs can be as high as one-third of a municipality’s energy bill. The water sector is also exposed to the risks and uncertainties associated with future energy fluctuations and prices. These challenges provide a window of opportunity to initiate a paradigm shift towards low-energy, low-carbon and climate resilient urban water services, by adopting energy efficiency measures or generating renewable energy from biogas.
Globally, approximately 80 percent of all wastewater is released into nature untreated. Untreated wastewater pollutes our water sources, and is a missed opportunity to recover water, energy, nutrients, and other precious materials embedded in wastewater. Emissions from untreated sewage represent three times the emissions of conventional wastewater treatments. Failure to install wastewater treatment negatively affects aquatic biodiversity and elevates health risks and water treatment costs downstream.
A sustained expansion of wastewater treatment, combined with appropriate technologies or concepts, is critical to put us on the path towards carbon neutrality.
The Project Design
The WaCCliM project works across local, national and international levels, and engages with national stakeholders around water utilities in Jordan, Mexico, Peru and Thailand.
WaCCliM aims at:
- Building capacity and strengthen public sector institutions and policies
- Leveraging financial resources for a low carbon climate resilient water sector
- Implementing scalable projects that measurably reduce GHGs
- Disseminating ‘lessons learned’ and promote replication and upscaling of GHG reduction approaches on the national, regional and international levels
At the local level, WaCCliM supports pilot utilities to reduce their carbon footprint through energy consumption reduction, energy and nutrient recovery, water reuse and water loss reduction. Operational improvements aim to generate spin-off benefits such as direct savings in energy bills as well as other cost and efficiency savings. To achieve this, pilot companies are supported by project experts who conduct baseline studies, options studies and trainings. They also facilitate knowledge exchange between the pilot companies, other utilities and associations.
At the national level, WaCCliM works with policy makers in partner countries to improve the regulatory and policy framework to strengthen public sector institutions and develop policies for financing and implementing climate mitigation measures in the water sector.
At the international level, WaCCliM develops and scales-up knowledge on water and climate mitigation through the Energy Performance and Carbon Emissions Assessment and Monitoring (ECAM) tool, the WaCCLiM Catalogue of Solutions, as well as conferences and events. Effective implementation helps advocate for improved financing mechanisms, and political incentives to replicate the successes of pilot utilities in partner countries and elsewhere.
The WaCCliM Roadmap
Emissions from the water sector are typically assessed in a fragmented way under different urban sectors. WaCCliM offers water utilities a roadmap to carbon neutrality, guiding them to increase awareness, assess their situation, identify measures to be implemented, and monitor progress. The Energy Performance and Carbon and Monitoring (ECAM) Tool is a cornerstone to the roadmap. ECAM evaluates efficiency and accounting for greenhouse gas emissions of the urban drinking water supply and wastewater systems. It allows utilities to identify areas of opportunity for energy efficiency, costs savings and GHG reductions, as well as opportunities for operational and service level improvements.