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Powerpoint outlining the city of Philadelphia's approach to adapting to modern water policies and actions to encourage innovation and sustainable growth.
Green infrastructure (GI) is a network of decentralized stormwater management practices, such as green roofs, trees, rain gardens and permeable pavement that can capture and infiltrate rain where it falls, thus reducing stormwater runoff and improving the health of surrounding waterways. While there are different scales of green infrastructure, such as large swaths of land set aside for preservation, this guide focuses on GI's benefits within the urban context. The ability of these practices to deliver multiple ecological, economic and social benefits or services has made green infrastructure an increasingly popular strategy in recent years. In addition to reducing polluted stormwater runoff, GI practices can also positively impact energy consumption, air quality, carbon reduction and sequestration, property prices, recreation and other elements of community health and vitality that have monetary or other social value. Moreover, green infrastructure practices provide flexibility to communities faced with the need to adapt infrastructure to a changing climate.
Water systems in the United States are among the safest in the world and yet, the fragmented way in which most cities have managed water historically is not viable for handling the serious water challenges confronting urban areas across the nation today and into the future. With climate change driving dramatic changes in the water cycle and rendering traditional approaches to water resources planning obsolete, the time has come for cities to adopt more holistic and resilient water management strategies. Based on the outcomes of an October, 2015 meeting of mayors, municipal leaders and urban water managers, this report encourages the pursuit of integrated water management as a pathway to addressing urban water challenges within and beyond city limits. The report explains the concept of integrated water management; illustrates the potential benefits of pursuing its implementation; and provides practical guidance about steps elected officials, water utility managers, and other municipal leaders can take to get started.
Brochure advertising and soliciting participation from citizens in the city's rain water harvesting and rebate program.
Green infrastructure practices provide a variety of benefits across the range of flood magnitudes. Common green infrastructure practices used to target flood management include green roofs, bioretention, water quality swales, and infiltration basins and trenches. While most effective at managing localized flooding, runoff volume capture can also significantly reduce the impact of larger scale riverine flooding events. Recent research on the impacts of green infrastructure employed on watershed-scale flooding suggests that green infrastructure can be effective at reducing peak flows for large infrequent storm events as well as provide noticeable volume reduction for more frequent storms. The ability for green infrastructure to address flooding at a variety of scales can lead to significant reductions in flood loss damages on an average annual basis.
The Sheboygan Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) is recognized as a nationwide leader in energy efficiency in the water and wastewater treatment sector. Sheboygan WWTP has implemented numerous energy-saving measures, mostly by replacing aging equipment with energy-efficient models.
A local government can have immediate impact on the energy performance of one of the key facilities under its control by targeting wastewater and water treatment facilities. Wastewater plants and drinking water systems can account for up to one-third of a municipality's total energy bill. These facilities represent a significant portion of controllable energy usage and offer opportunities for cost-effective investments in energy-efficient technologies.
The relationship between water and energy is a close one. Water requires a tremendous amount of energy to move from a reservoir or well, through the treatment process, and out into a distribution system. In addition, energy is required to process wastewater and recycle or discharge it. The energy required to operate the water and wastewater system is often called embedded energy. Despite this strong connection, the energy intensity of water and wastewater systems is relatively undocumented. There are few data sources and reports analyzing the energy required to move and treat water, and the data generally are not publicly available. ACEEE has been working to gain a better understanding of the energy embedded in water in order to help water utilities reduce costs, improve energy efficiency, and quantify the avoided energy and pollution savings that accrue as a result of water conservation programs. As part of an ongoing effort to advance the understanding of the water-energy nexus and bring attention to possible opportunities, the National Association of Water Companies (NAWC) and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) collaborated on a new research project to gather primary information on the amount of energy required to treat and distribute water. ACEEE and NAWC jointly produced a survey for NAWC's member companies related to their energy use and water processing. NAWC has over 100 member water and wastewater companies of varying sizes throughout the United States.
OCEAN is an online resources of the Building Codes Assistance Project. Here they provide a case study of the work happening in San Antonio. On March 12, 2009, the San Antonio City Council voted to approve and adopt a new Sustainable Buildings Ordinance that increases the energy efficiency of buildings by 15% more than the existing San Antonio and Texas state energy codes. This measure incorporated water conservation and other green building elements for all new construction, additions and substantial renovations in the city. The ordinance will make San Antonio the third major city to adopt advanced energy codes in Texas, joining Austin and Houston. The new ordinance will go into effect January 1, 2010, and mark a significant collaborative effort by many stakeholders.
There is significant potential for gains in energy efficiency (EE) in the U.S. water sector that, if realized, would support the security of water supply for its various uses at a lower cost over the long run than business as usual. This paper specifically examines the potential benefits of and barriers to EE implementation in the publicly-supplied water sector in the United States. The paper addresses this specific piece of the water sector to provide a focus on areas where local governments and municipal water utilities operate and can directly and quickly effect change. I examine the potential for EE along each stage of the public water cycle. Using case studies of communities that have tried to improve EE in their water sectors, I discuss the incentives and disincentives to implementing energy efficiency policy in the public water sector and assess the success of several water utility EE programs. I conclude with a recommendation for local government leaders and water utility administrators to collaborate on designing and financing energy efficiency measures in the public water system.