By Gary Wong
Drinking water and wastewater treatment are inextricably connected to environmental responsibility, whether it’s providing clean safe drinking water and reducing leaks or striving to meet nutrient permit limits to avoid eutrophication, which can harm aquatic life.
Despite this clear connection, many WTPs and WWTPs do not consider the environmental impact of direct and indirect greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by their operations. Drinking water and wastewater treatment is estimated to comprise between 1% and 4% of the total energy consumption in the U.S. Energy is the one of the highest expenses for WTPs and WWTPs, second only to labor.
With energy consumption such an inherent aspect of water and wastewater treatment, reducing GHGs may seem like a daunting challenge. Yet not only is it possible for utilities to reduce GHGs, but some are also striving to become carbon neutral –– in other words, to produce net zero carbon emissions.