With federal, provincial, and municipal governments all planning big investments in water and wastewater infrastructure, Ontario has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reduce the “unnecessarily large amounts of energy” those systems consume, the province’s Environmental Commissioner asserts in a report released earlier this week.
The report, titled Every Drop Counts, “looks at the energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, impact on fresh water, and financial costs of operating Ontario’s municipal water and wastewater systems,” the Commissioner’s office states in a release. “Although these systems are often a municipality’s largest energy users, energy efficiency has not historically been a priority.”
“If long-term energy costs are included in these infrastructure decisions, and if the money is spent wisely, Ontario municipalities have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to cut the energy costs and environmental footprints of these systems,” said Commissioner Dianne Saxe.
Ontario municipalities spend C$260 million per year on the energy they need to operate water and wastewater systems, and that figure is on track to rise, the release notes. Leaks of treated drinking water run as high as 40% in some communities, meaning that both the water itself and the energy required to process and move it are wasted. The report calls on system operators to respond more effectively to leaks, use more efficient pumps and high-efficiency water fixtures, shift their power purchases to off-peak periods, and target summer outdoor water use.