This book is the result of discussions held at a Raleigh,
N.C., energy summit organized by the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria,
Va.) in March 2012. The summit was attended by invited water and power industry
leaders with the aim of defining pathways to increase energy sustainability in
water utilities of all sizes. The term “water utilities” was intended to be
inclusive of drinking water facilities and water resource recovery facilities.
One of the
conclusions was that there is a need for an energy guidance document to coach
such utilities in implementing their transition to a more sustainable
operation. This book responds to that. It provides a very clear and practical
approach to be followed, in six domains: strategic management, organizational
culture, communication and outreach, demand-side management, energy generation,
and innovations in technology and management. The executive summary at the
beginning of the book announces the approach with an impressive figure in which
the six interrelated topic areas are linked to three phases of progression —
enable, integrate, and optimize. Each stage of each topic area is identified
with keywords; these are elaborated in detail in the next chapters.
The organization of
these chapters is practical, systematic, and focused on application. They
suggest a method, but not the answers. For example, in the energy generation
chapter, the scheme that was shown before is repeated with more explanation —
although still limited to a single page. Then the authors provide a brief
outline of ways to extract energy from water — the focus is on biogas
production, hydropower generation, and heat pumps, with a very short note on
other inherent energy sources. Supplemental energy sources, including solar and
wind, are mentioned as well, even though they are not specific for water
The last section of
the book presents seven case studies from utilities in different U.S. states.
These case studies show examples of what can be achieved by drinking water and
water resource recovery facilities, each linked to the approach developed in
the book. The book has a long list of contributors; the WEF connection and
selection of the participants to the summit gives this book strong credibility.
It is a must-have and must-do for all water utilities!
Bart Van der Bruggen is a professor at the University of Leuven, Belgium, Department of Chemical Engineering.