May 19, 2008
CVWD uses grant to study impacts of water use on energy costs in non-peak periods.
Customers from as many as 300 Coachella Valley homes and businesses soon will be asked to help assess the potential benefits of shifting as much of their water usage as possible to non-peak electrical power demand time periods. This is when rates are substantially lower.
Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD) is partnering with the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) and Energy Consulting to conduct the study, which is funded predominately through a $400,000 grant from the California Energy Commission.
Energy use associated with water is substantial. Statewide, energy directly associated with water deliveries accounts for eight percent of all energy consumption. Factor in the amount of energy needed for wastewater disposal, water heating and cooling, and the percentage jumps to a fifth of total energy consumption in California.
The 18-month, time-of-use study will begin this month and continue through fall 2009. Where possible, homes and businesses with water meters featuring automated reading already installed will be utilized. As needed, additional “smart” meters will be installed to ensure that the study is sufficient in scope.
These meters provide a reading that is entered into the database of a computer automatically. Data from the meters enable the customer to determine at exactly what time and how much water is consumed and, quite often, for what purpose.
Because as much as 80 percent of domestic water consumption in Coachella Valley is used to irrigate lawns and other landscaping, most conservation efforts have focused on outdoor savings. Although CVWD fully endorses indoor water conservation techniques, public awareness efforts have focused on the use of efficient irrigation practices and native and other drought-tolerant landscaping.
With respect to outdoor water use, for example, the district long has advocated that irrigation take place early in the morning or late in the evening, to conserve water otherwise lost to evaporation because of higher temperatures. In addition to saving water, this reduces the need to pump water during peak periods, which requires electricity, shifting power consumption to an off-peak period.
Water conservation is another objective of the study, since participating consumers will be encouraged to change their water-consumption habits as well as the times during which they use water. For example, time-of-use information can alert customers of possible leaks, which are a significant source of water loss and inefficiency.
Every effort already is made to pump water from wells and into reservoirs during non-peak periods of time. This study may enable customers to further reduce both energy and water use by changing their habits. Given the seemingly constant increases in energy costs, this will reduce overall district expenditures.
“This is an example of the water industry taking a leadership role in helping California address both water and energy issues” said Krista Clark, ACWA's project manager for the study. She added that cutting back on energy use during peak demand times helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, “It's good for the environmental and the consumer.”
“We are anxious to review the data, and to get a sense as to whether consumers are willing—and able—to change both their water-use habits and their energy-use habits said CVWD's General Manager-Chief Engineer Steve Robbins. “ We believe this study will help our district, help our consumers and help the state in its efforts to manage valuable resources.”
John Powell Jr., President
Franz De Klotz, Vice President
Jim Barrett, General Manager