Motivate Action

While water services have to cope with the impacts of climate change, they also contribute to global emissions from energy, as well as nitrous oxide and methane in wastewater systems. Water pumping, treatment and distribution, use up to 8% of the global energy generation.

On this page we identify drivers and objectives that will motivate actions towards a low-energy low-carbon utility.

What is driving your utility towards carbon neutrality

Reduce costs

As energy costs make up a large part of a water utility’s operating costs, reducing energy consumption is a key driver for reducing GHG emissions. Similarly, reducing water losses in the drinking water system or infiltration and inflow of stormwater in sewers reduce pumping and treatment energy. A strong focus of the proposed approach relates to energy optimisation of the utility services.

Renew assets

When aging assets need to be renewed, there is an opportunity to evaluate solutions that are low-energy and low-carbon. It is also a good time to assess the water consumption and water loss reduction strategies so that future assets are adapted to conveying and treating lower water volumes per capita. Handling less water translates to lower pumping energy, and more efficient treatment. Expanding the assets is part of the utility’s mission to provide access to water and sanitation for all residents. It can be implemented by choosing low-carbon solutions. The expanded service, in addition to providing community health and biodiversity benefits, will offset the GHG emissions associated to the discharge of untreated wastewater to receiving water bodies, which account worldwide to about x% of emissions.

Environmental stewardship

Whether it is for tourism, local economy, recreation, real estate, or quality of life, maintaining a healthy water environment in the water bodies around cities can be a key driver for increasing wastewater treatment coverage, or improving wastewater treatment, which can result in reduced GHG emissions from the water bodies with less carbon and nitrogen available in the water for conversion to GHG by microorganisms. Many water utilities are already feeling the effects of water scarcity, water quality deterioration in water supplies and receiving waters from drought as well as from increased flooding events. Therefore, implementing measures that can reduce GHG emissions is a way to contribute to the international agreement to mitigate climate change. When identifying measures to adapt to the impacts of climate change on water quality and quantity, the utility has an opportunity to consider low-carbon solutions.


The customers of the water utility are citizens who might be driving the utility or the local authorities to make political decisions towards climate mitigation actions in all sectors of the City. The political will of the utility to implement progressive water-wise measures and /or contribute to climate mitigation changes the priorities with which projects are assessed, leading to implementing measures based on economical and socio-environmental criteria. At the same time, customers can enable some low-carbon measures through their behavior (e.g.: using less water, using solar heating) and through their acceptance of alternative approaches (e.g:.: reuse, rainwater harvesting)

The water-energy-carbon nexus

Did you know?

Related resources

Welcome & Introduction

WaCCliM Team 2017

Setting the scene

WaCCliM Team 2017

Benefits and drawbacks of thermal pre-hydrolysis for operational performance of wastewater treatment plants

Energy efficiency: benefits of variable speed control in pumps, fans and compressors

Schneider Electric Industries SAS 2008
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