March 2014, Vol. 26, No.3

Water Volumes

The Energy Roadmap: A Water and Wastewater Utility Guide to More Sustainable Energy Management

Water Environment Federation (2013). Water Environment Federation, 601 Wythe Street, Alexandria, VA 22314, 148 pp., $55, softcover, ISBN: 978-1-57278-273-0.

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 utilities.

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.