The state’s water-energy stakeholders identified several high priority water-energy strategies. In addition to substantially reducing use of potable water for non-potable uses, one of the most important is to reduce the energy intensity of the state’s water resources. Within this context, strategies include:
- Changing the portfolio of the state’s water resources
- Displacing reliance on high energy intensity resources with lower energy intensity resources
- Changing water systems and operations to reduce energy use by the water sector itself
- Identifying new technologies that can substantially reduce the energy intensity of important new drought-proof water supply options such as seawater desalination
The Water-Energy subgroup of the Governor’s Climate Action Team (WET-CAT) is investigating the establishment of a water resources loading order in which lower energy intensive supplies are prioritized over higher energy intensive supplies. The following diagram illustrates the relative energy intensity of various water supply resources in Southern California. Energy intensity will likely become a component of the methodology to determine a statewide water resource loading order.
Figure courtesy of Professor Robert Wilkinson, Bren School, University of California, Santa Barbara.
Note: Light Blue – Recycled Water; Green – Groundwater; Red – Imported Water; Orange – Desalination
Other state agencies are also playing a role in California’s water future. Following recent findings regarding the benefits of recycled water, the State Water Resources Control Board developed aggressive goals to add 2 million acre-feet of new recycled water supply by 2030. This would more than triple the current statewide capacity and is equivalent to 23% of the state’s current urban water demand.
The Alliance Water‐Energy Advisory Committee agreed recycled water is likely the supply with the lowest energy intensity and is the next best resource after water conservation. Consequentially, in May 2008, the Alliance released a study estimating the potential energy and carbon benefits of accelerating and increasing the development and use of recycled water in Southern California.