Around the country, a new conversation is emerging among municipal leaders and utility executives as they explore the energy/water nexus. While Senator Murkowski started the discussion at the federal level in 2014, local leaders are just beginning to question the impact of the energy/water nexus. The water/energy nexus deals with the need for water to produce energy, and for energy to treat and distribute clean water. Water infrastructure is an essential public service in any city and is intrinsically linked to energy. Smart technologies and smart strategies for water and energy utilities are needed to address conservation challenges and form the foundation for a truly Smart City.
With the rise of the Smart City, Smart Region and Smart Country mantra, companies, organizations and cities are contributing to growing demand for all things ‘smart.’ The energy/water nexus is one area that can highlight ‘smart’ devices and strategies and long-range planning. As much as 30% of all clean, treated, potable water is lost before it reaches consumers, along with 30% of the energy it took to produce and pump the water and 30% of the chemicals to clean it.
Cities and states could also use water policy to address Clean Air Act requirements. There is potential for utilities to get credit for using cold water to save energy and reduce their GHG emissions. Many water authorities and electric utilities are already beginning to work together to share advanced technologies and integrate infrastructure development plans. These efforts could include a number of approaches, such as addressing data gaps, encouraging public-private partnerships and helping to share best practices.
On May 12-13, utility and municipal leaders from across the county will discuss these and other aspects of a Smart City at the 2015 Energy Central Smart Cities Conference in Charlotte, NC.