Water Journal : Water Journal April 2014
APRIL 2014 WATER COLLABORATION THE KEY TO SECURING VITAL NATURAL RESOURCES "Australia is one of the driest continents in the world, which means it is also well placed to tackle the thorny issue of the water-energy nexus head on," says Stuart Gowans, General Manager Business Development of Degrémont Australia. "Just as energy production depends on water -- primarily to cool thermal power plants and to carry away waste heat -- so too does water infrastructure depend on electricity. And with the earth's population expected to reach nine billion by 2045, and two-thirds of the world expected to be under water stress within the next 15 years, nding sustainable ways to manage water and energy resources is vital to ensure healthy communities. "We know that water is in limited supply, and most energy production relies on-sustainable fossil fuels, so it appears we have reached an impasse. We need to nd new ways of doing things that will protect these valuable resources, and thus protect the future of our cities, towns, industry -- and communities. "As the theme of this year's World Water Day is Water and Energy, there is no better time for governments, policy makers, private water businesses and industry leaders to pool their collective wisdom and nd a solution. It is only through such a collaborative effort that the aims of a green economy -- to support sustainable developments, improved human well-being and social equity, while reducing environmental threats and securing vital resources -- can be fully realised. "According to www.nexuswaterenergy. com, water withdrawals are expected to increase by 50 per cent in the next 15 years, while global energy use is expected to increase by 50 per cent in the next 20 years. Much of this will be in the water required to produce electricity, and the electricity required to produce clean drinking water. "In Australia, gross electricity generation is projected to grow by nearly 50 per cent from 247 terawatt hours in 2007--08 to 366 terawatt hours in 2029--30. And with electricity being a major extractor of water from the environment this increase in demand will inevitably lead to an increase in pressure on water resources. This increasing demand for both water and energy will be a critical issue over the next few years due to several factors: global population growth; global economic growth; and improved living conditions in developing countries. Therefore, the interdependence of water and energy must be addressed to meet the growing needs for both resources. "On the one hand, we need to invest in innovative technology that limits the amounts of water for energy production -- and maximises water reuse -- while on the other, we need to nd ways to conserve and preserve water and wastewater that are less energy intensive. "With Australia committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020, coupled with policies requiring power plants to control their water usage, for both environment and health reasons, the time to act is now. "The rst step is to acknowledge the issue -- as those of us in the industry are doing -- and to take steps towards greater collaboration across the water and energy sectors, with Government backing. "Investigating opportunities for improving the energy ef ciency of wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) is already a priority across the water industry, with State Government- owned water utilities working with private water treatment specialists to develop innovative, energy-friendly ways to secure water supplies. For example, in South Australia, there is the Alliance Energy Action Team, comprising representatives from SA Water, Allwater (a private consortium) and energy consultant Ef cientSee, established to identify energy savings in that state's extensive water and wastewater network. "Including private water businesses and energy providers in this collaboration could lead to pilot projects to quantify the impact of various water management options and energy requirements, while enabling experts in both industries to gather valuable data that would otherwise be fragmented. "International experience has shown that these collaborations can be bene cial to both industries, and to the community at large. For example, the State Government of California's Water and Energy Climate Action Team is a cross-function group charged with 'coordinating its efforts on both greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction and adaptation actions affecting the portion of the energy sector that supports the storage, transport and delivery of water for agricultural, residential, and commercial needs'." Stuart concludes: "It is time for Australia to take the lead and nd workable and sustainable solutions to an issue that is effecting us all, and is not going away on its own. A collaborative approach between all major players is the best way to ensure we meet the goals of a green economy." 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