One high potential opportunity identified by the Energy Commission and water utilities is to reduce the overall energy intensity of the state's water supply portfolio by displacing high energy intensity water supplies with lower energy intensity water supplies. This strategy, referred to as "supply switching", appears to hold potential for significant benefits, especially in Southern California where energy, water and air quality are all under significant stress.
Industry experts thus recommended that the Alliance evaluate the potential energy, water, and carbon and other societal benefits that could be achieved by displacing higher energy water supplies in Southern California with local recycled water supplies. This approach would have multiple benefits:
- It would result in a viable methodology for valuing energy embedded in water.
- It would provide a rational basis for determining potential co-investments by the energy sector to achieve the energy benefits achievable through water measures.
- It would help policymakers understand the magnitude of benefits (water, energy and climate) that could be achieved, and the changes to policies, rules, regulations and programs that would be needed to achieve those incremental benefits.