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Energy Efficiency in Water and Wastewater Facilities

Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, water and wastewater treatment facilities are humming with the sound of pumps and motors working to provide the community with clean water. Wastewater plants and drinking water systems can account for up to one-third of a municipality’s total energy bill (EPA 2009). These facilities represent a significant portion of controllable energy usage and offer opportunities for cost-effective investments in energy-efficient technologies.

Energy efficiency measures in water and wastewater facilities can deal with the installation of energy-efficient equipment and also the adoption of improved processes. Pumping requires much of the energy used for treating and delivering drinking water and for transporting wastewater to and through the treatment plant. Installing a new, more efficient pumping system and adding new controls and sensors that improve automation can produce energy savings by approximately 20 percent.

Energy is embedded not only in the water and wastewater treatment plants but throughout the pipe systems as well. For example, leaking pipes for drinking water require more energy in order to deliver water to the end-user. Likewise, manholes and sewer pipes that are leaking groundwater into the system impact energy use as well. The treatment plant can’t tell the difference between clean groundwater and dirty wastewater. It pumps and processes whatever water shows up at the treatment plant headworks. In short, projects to fix leaky pipes and manhole coatings can dramatically improve both water and energy savings.

Improvements can also have a direct impact on environmental conditions. In addition to the energy they use, water and wastewater systems have a significant impact on the environment, emitting more than 45 million tons of greenhouse gases every year.

Benefits of improving energy efficiency

Due to their significant impact on both the economy and the environment, the benefits of improving the energy efficiency of water and wastewater treatment facilities are numerous. According to the Energy Efficiency in Water and Wastewater Facilities guide, those benefits include the following.

  1. Reduce air pollution and GHG emissions that can lead to smog, acid rain and respiratory problems.
  2. Reduce energy costs by increasing efficiency or shifting energy use away from peak demand times when electricity is less expensive.
  3. Support economic growth through job creation and market development by stimulating growth in the energy efficiency services sector where most jobs are performed locally.
  4. Demonstrate leadership and set an example by investing in energy efficiency and encouraging others to do the same.
  5. Improve energy and water security by avoiding the risk of brownouts or blackouts during high energy demand due to improved energy efficiency.
  6. Extend the life of infrastructure/equipment, because, not only does energy-efficient equipment have a longer service life, it can also reduce the demand on existing infrastructure by improving overall efficiency.
  7. Protect public health by reducing air and water pollution that has a direct impact on public health. Improved performance of treatment processes also reduces the risk of treatment failures.

Stop the leaks with trenchless sewer repair options

The budget for simply operating a water and wastewater facility can be a burden for many communities. Taking on the additional cost of manhole replacements or sewer lining repair can be too far out of reach. As a result, these structures continue to age and develop leaks that place an additional burden on the facility. Fortunately, there are alternative options that will increase efficiency without breaking the budget.

Advancements in polyurea products have led to the development of spray-applied coatings that offer affordable, long-lasting solutions for manhole rehabilitation and sewer lining repair. By eliminating corrosion and infiltration issues in a single manhole that is leaking 2 gallons of groundwater per minute, you can reduce the amount of water running through a treatment facility by 1,051,200 gallons per year.

If you are interested in learning more about trenchless sewer repair, OBIC can help.  Our spray-applied products can help alleviate the burden of damaged manhole coatings, provide sewer lining repair options and even help with culvert lining rehabilitation.  For more information, or to schedule a free, on-site demonstration with an installer near you, visit our website.