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LEVEL 2

MODULE 8.1: WATER

Assess status and explore use of tools and methodologies

•    Has the approached used to date been effective?


-    Considering that water and energy are closely linked, it is important to understand if the local government (LG) has assessed the interdependency between water and energy.  The water-energy nexus addresses sufficiency, efficiency and sustainability. All these areas are essential when (re)developing a SEAP – especially when considering that future demand of both these resources is likely to intensify.

-    By conducting a SWOT analysis on the current status one can see what opportunities, weaknesses, opportunities and threats exist in the water-energy nexus. What works well? What does not and can be improved or strengthened?
-    It is essential to consider how to optimize these inter-connected systems.  This should be done through an integrated approach – by developing and applying an approach to manage and optimise both resources within local and regional governments.
-    Some good practices in improving water and energy management:

  •     Introducing environmental management systems (EMS) and linking these to Energy Management Systems (EnMS) can prove highly useful as it provides basis on which actions could be taken to improve environmental AND energy performance of utilities, buildings and facilities. Some of the known ones are (and not limited to): 

-    Water utilities play a key role in the development of an appropriate strategy and approach – ideally in coordination and close cooperation with the municipality - as well as running the day-to-day services.

•    What are the potential barriers to integrated water and energy management

   
-    Operational barriers: Energy and water management is complex and needs specific expertise in both fields. Thus an interdisciplinary, inter-departmental dialogue between water and energy experts and qualified municipal / utility technicians is required to develop and implement an integrated water and energy management process. This in turn also links to large infrastructure projects, where renewal of existing systems may be needed (efficient water pipes, new optimised water purification and pumping systems, etc..).
-    Institutional barriers: Traditionally energy and water management have been two separate issues. This means they have simply not been considered together, which means “path dependencies” (existing structures and processes, even different organizations involved) could cause institutional inertia or resistance to change from the current governance / management set-up. Personnel involved in the management should be aware of the importance of the need for integration. They should be encouraged to take a pragmatic and transparent approach to the management – this is after all a new exciting challenge! The development and/or improvement of a Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP) can provide and facilitate an integrated approach.
-    Political barriers: Political leaders might not see the potential benefit an integrated management approach for water and energy – as this is a new field of work. They would need to be convinced of the environmental and economic benefits to gain political commitment. The political commitment to climate protection and/or the Covenant for Mayors can support the argumentation, as can exploring cost-benefit studies.
-    Regulatory barriers: In some cases legalisation and policies would not be conducive to an integrated approach. Alternative solutions would have to be explored or city ordinances might have to be changed.
-    Financial barriers: An integrated approach is likely to also incur additional or higher initial expenses in the short term, regarding replacement of equipment, conducting expert analysis and changes in current institutional structures. However, the benefits in the long run will not only be substantial in terms of environmental gains, but also economic and political (energy and water security).

  • In Germany for instance, sewage plants are with 4,2 TWh per year the biggest energy consumer for local governments (even before schools and street lighting). Here there is a huge financial savings potential which can be tapped through energy efficiency measures.

 

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