Carbon Conscious Water

At PMC, we recognize that water conservation efforts are especially important in addressing climate change. Twenty percent of California’s energy is used for the movement of water throughout the state. The massive amount of energy required to filter, transport and treat water for everyday consumption produces an equally large amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These gases increase the rate of global warming, potentially leading to longer dry seasons, more flash flooding and accelerated snowpack melt, all of which result in a reduced water supply, increased risk of drought, catastrophic wildfire and other significant impacts. An unfortunate cycle then begins: Reduced water supplies require us to extract water in a more energy-intensive manner, which then creates more GHG emissions, which further reduces water supplies.

The Carbon Conscious program is designed to help municipalities and water providers develop comprehensive plans to conserve water and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Each approach is developed by combining technical data analysis and water conservation expertise with educational and community-based social marketing techniques designed to effect behavior change on both personal and institutional levels. PMC can assist with measuring reductions in GHG emissions by determining baseline energy consumption associated with the transportation and treatment of water, thus assisting water providers in calculating milestone measurements. These measurements are critical in identifying attainable goals for conservation programs and GHG reductions. Water conservation targets can then be advertised with a quantified GHG and environmental benefit specific to the water provider’s service area.

California Legislation

Climate change is impacting water availability and use in California. Increased levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are a significant contributor to global warming. The State of California has assumed a leadership role in efforts to slow global warming. The governor signed Executive Order S-3-05 in June 2005 establishing GHG reduction targets of 25% (to 1990 levels) by 2020 and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. In 2006, the State enacted the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32) which, among other charges, established the Climate Action Team (CAT) to coordinate the efforts set forth under Executive Order S-3-05. The Climate Change Scoping Plan contains GHG reduction measures recommended by the CAT.

The AB 32 Scoping Plan is available online at: http://www.arb.ca.gov/cc/scopingplan/document/scopingplandocument.htm

The Scoping Plan includes six GHG emission reduction targets for the water-energy sector. The measures are identified in Table 22 (page 66) of the Scoping Plan as follows:

Water Recommendation (MMTCO2E in 2020)*

Measure No.

Measure Description

Reduction*

W-1

Water Use Efficiency

1.4

W-2

Water Recycling

0.3

W-3

Water System Energy Efficiency

2.0

W-4

Reuse Urban Runoff

0.2

W-5

Increase Renewable Energy Productions

0.9

W-6

Public Goods Charge

TBD

*Million Metric Tons of CO2e (MMTCO2e) by 2020

Municipal and Water Provider Services

PMC can provide sustainability, energy and climate change related services associated with assessing municipal services linked to water use, transport and treatment. Our staff and associates are experts in reviewing data associated with water in accordance with current legislation, regulatory guidelines and best management practices. By working with each jurisdiction individually, PMC can produce strategies and guidelines for implementing overall water efficiency and conservation. Some of these services include:

  • Water use data analysis and development of conservation targets
  • Analysis of GHG emissions related to water transport, use and treatment
  • Water resource management plans
  • Environmental impact assessments and reports specific to water resources
  • Infrastructure and facilities planning
  • Sustainable land use, development and revitalization planning
  • Retrofitting and water reuse planning

Water Conservation and Public Outreach Services

Serious water conservation campaigns approach change from both the top down and the bottom up. Once a municipality or water provider has assessed water usage and GHG output, PMC can assist in developing comprehensive communications tools to facilitate public engagement and participation. PMC employs strategies and practices based on community-based social marketing (CBSM) principles related to behavior change. The CBSM model is based on conducting research to identify barriers to behaviors that prohibit water conservation practices, developing and testing appropriate messaging that addresses those behaviors, and implementing marketing campaigns designed with specific tactics to produce the positive desired practices.

PMC has a track record of implementing successful water conservation campaigns that include some of the services listed below:

  • Community outreach and public meetings
  • Multimedia advertising campaigns
  • Culturally specific outreach materials
  • Web and social networking strategies
  • Visioning and branding strategies and collateral
  • Water efficiency information and links to rebates

Water use requires significant amounts of energy. Approximately one-fifth of the electricity and one-third of the non-power plant natural gas consumed in the state are associated with water delivery, treatment and use. The water sector targets reducing energy requirements associated with providing reliable water supplies and reducing the amount of non-renewable electricity associated with conveying and treating water.
Source: California Air Resources Board

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