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Handbooks encourage water conservation & greater energy efficiency
Two of Hawaii’s authorities on water conservation and energy efficiency announced the distribution of two new handbooks written for Hawaii’s water and wastewater utilities that can help save up to 20%, or $16.1 million, in electricity costs annually—enough to power 9,400 homes in Hawaii.
Hawaii Energy, the ratepayer-funded energy conservation and efficiency program for Hawaii, Lanai, Maui, Molokai and Oahu, developed the Water & Wastewater Energy Management Best Practices Handbook to help water and wastewater facilities operate with increased energy efficiency.
The State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources’ (DLNR) Commission on Water Resource Management released the Hawaii Water System Audits and Water Loss Control Manual to assist all public water systems in Hawaii to assess their water supply efficiency through water audits and water loss programs.
Hawaii Energy’s Water & Wastewater Energy Management Best Practices Handbook shows that water and energy usage are inextricably linked due to the significant energy required to transport and treat water and wastewater.
Based on a Hawaii Energy survey conducted in 2013, the state’s public water and wastewater systems consume an estimated 290.3 million kilowatt hours (kWh) per year, which is approximately 3.2% of the electric utilities’ total sales. The generally accepted industry standard for water and wastewater facilities is that energy efficiency measures can generate 20% or more in energy savings. For Hawaii, the 20% potential savings translate to more than 58 million kWh per year (or $16.1 million) based on an average electricity rate of 28 cents per kWh.
“The handbook is another example of our commitment to increase the adoption of energy conservation and efficiency throughout Hawaii,” said Ray Starling, program director, Hawaii Energy. “The water and wastewater best practices have been proven effective in other parts of the country, are simple to follow and offer a wide spectrum of energy-efficient measures.”
It is written as a practical guide to help water and wastewater management personnel make informed decisions to reduce energy consumption in all aspects of facility operations, repair and investment. It outlines how to develop and assess an energy management program, implement capital and operational improvements to reduce energy usage and track energy performance. The handbook provides an overview of each energy-efficient best practice and outlines the potential impact on productivity, the economic benefit and potential energy savings. Each practice is presented in a one-page format for easier readability and reference.
Portions of the handbook were developed with the permission of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and Wisconsin’s energy efficiency and renewable resource program, Focus on Energy.
Municipal and private regulated water and wastewater utilities provide service to 95 percent of Hawaii’s population. There are 206 regulated wastewater treatment facilities with a treatment capacity of more than 243 million gallons per day and an average daily flow of 121 million gallons, according to the state Department of Health.
DLNR’s Commission on Water Resource Management funded the development of the Hawaii Water System Audits and Water Loss Control Manual, which was prepared by the Hawaii Rural Water Assn.
The commission acknowledged that a water utility’s energy bill is one of its largest operating expenses. By improving water system efficiency, the utility can prevent unnecessary waste, defer costs for new water source development and reduce energy bills.
“The majority of Hawaii’s drinking water comes from groundwater wells that require substantial amounts of electricity to pump out of the ground, into elevated storage reservoirs and then transported to customers,” explained William Tam, deputy director for the Commission on Water Resource Management. “If a lot of water is lost during this process, more energy is needed to pump additional water to compensate for the shortfall. Reducing water loss reduces energy consumption.”
The additional benefits of implementing water audits and water loss control programs include the following: increased knowledge of the water distribution system; reduced water loss by identifying problem/risk areas; efficient use of existing supplies; less legal liabilities and minimal service disruptions to customers.
The manual was developed based on the International Water Assn.’s (IWA) and the America Water Works Assn.’s (AWWA) “IWA/AWWA Water Audit Methodology.”
The manual was adopted from the Georgia Water System Audits and Loss Control Manual (September 2011, Version 1.0) with permission from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Georgia Environmental Protection Division and Georgia Watershed Protection Branch.
In April 2014, the commission conducted water audit training workshops in the four counties for drinking water utilities. Future workshops may be held based on interest. Water audits are not required in Hawaii. However, the commission is evaluating the implications of requiring water audits in the future.