Water is a basic need for every life form on the planet. As the population grows and countries continue to develop, the demand for water also increases significantly. As a result, the waste produced from the use of water is also rising.  The water and wastewater sectors face challenges in increasing demand for water, improving water quality standards as well as the need to adapt to climate change. And with the global community pledging to limit global temperature rise to 1.5C, all sectors have started to pave their ways towards solutions that will meet the target.
The Nationally Determined Contribution Roadmap on Mitigation has been set out for 2021-2030, and is divided into energy and transport, industrial processes and product use, and waste sectors. Within the waste sectorin Thailand, municipal wastewater treatment accounts for 47.5% of the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In the wastewater sector, GHG emissions are indirectly and directly generated from energy used in wastewater treatment and treatment processes.
Thailand has 101 municipal wastewater treatment facilities.

Source: Pollution Control Department, Thailand

To drive GHG emissions reduction in utilities, the ECAM (Energy Performance and Carbon Emissions Assessment and Monitoring Tool) was developed by the Water and Wastewater Companies for Climate Mitigation Thailand (WaCCliM) project, which is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI). The tool can be used for GHG emissions assessment, energy performance assessment and identifying opportunities to improve operational efficiency and services for reducing CO2 emissions in the water and wastewater sectors.
It follows a tiered approach. Tier A helps utility managers and operators to understand the overall energy usage and total GHG emissions at the system-wide level. Tier B provides details on energy use and GHG emissions at the individual stage level of the urban water cycle. The web-based tool enables utilities to identify areas of improvement and evaluate solutions and scenarios for developing a feasible carbon reduction strategy as well as future reporting needs on climate mitigation.

The reduction of the GHG emissions will

1. Reduce energy use
2. Reduce cost of the operation
3. Reduce the impact of untreated wastewater in natural water sources
4. Achieve the GHG reduction target of the country

The ECAM tool is free and available at http://wacclim.org/ecam/index.php. Guidelines, calculation principles and training documents are also provided.

Recently, municipal and Bangkok-based officers from the Thai Wastewater Management Authority participated in a workshop on the ECAM Tool and GHG emissions in wastewater sector. The workshop not only provided technical knowledge but also an opportunity to train others in this area.

Thailand ratified the Paris Agreement in September 2016. The country’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) intend to reduce GHG emissions by at least 20% by the year 2030 compared to the projected business as-usual level.

By Andrés Rojo.

El lanzamiento del novedoso portal “Climate Smart Water” busca impulsar a los organismos operadores de agua y saneamiento a integrar una visión clara de cómo sus actividades están ligadas al cambio climático, y como pueden tomar medidas para mejorar su eficiencia y reducir su huella de carbono.

El Portal “Climate Smart Water” es un nuevo recurso para que las empresas prestadoras de servicios (Organismos Operadores, como se les conoce en México – O.O.) de agua y saneamiento, integren una visión clara del vínculo que tienen las actividades de proveer agua potable y tratar aguas residuales con el cambio climático.



En México y gran parte del mundo, la mayoría de los O.O. tienen una labor delicada: El agua es fundamental para una vida digna, así como para cualquier actividad productiva, por lo que la gestión adecuada y sustentable de los recursos hídricos se vuelve crítica para un desarrollo sustentable; sin embargo, debido a cuestiones políticas y sociales la realidad de muchos O.O. es de poca continuidad en su dirección, dificultades financieras, ineficiencias y pérdidas de agua importantes.

Por ello los O.O. tienen un fuerte enfoque en reducir costos operativos para continuar la provisión del servicio frente a una población en crecimiento, normas ambientales más estrictas, y nuevos e impredecibles efectos del cambio climático, cuyos principales impactos del mismo se dan a través de eventos meteorológicos que involucran el ciclo del agua.

Ante esta situación delicada, hay una oportunidad importante para que se reconozca que los impactos al sector de agua y saneamiento no son el único vínculo con el cambio climático, sino que también hay una contribución significativa de gases de efecto invernadero (GEI); esto debido a las emisiones producidas para la energía requerida para suministrar el agua a las ciudades, y por la producción de GEI en el manejo y disposición de las aguas residuales.



El tener claridad la relación de cambio climático y los O.O. permite incrementar aún más la conciencia de lo importante que es asegurar servicios de calidad, ahora y planear hacia el futuro, implementando mejoras que al mismo tiempo ayuden a mitigar los efectos del cambio climático.

El portal “Climate Smart Water” provee una hoja de ruta que permite a los O.O. identificar el vínculo de sus actividades con la mitigación del cambio climático, y provee herramientas y recursos para evaluar cómo reducir su huella de carbono.

La estructura de la hoja de ruta cuenta con 5 pasos escalonados.

• Proporciona información sobre la importancia de reducir la huella de carbono

• Una herramienta en línea permite contabilizar las emisiones de los sistemas que administra el O.O.

• La misma herramienta permite identificar oportunidades de mejora

• Proporciona información sobre cómo implementar soluciones en las áreas de oportunidad identificadas

• Tras la implementación, permite monitorear el desempeño del O.O. y cómo se han reducido o modificado las emisiones de GEI a través del tiempo

La dirección del portal es http://climatesmartwater.org/



El portal “Climate Smart Water” se desarrolló dentro del marco del Proyecto Global “Empresas de agua y saneamiento para la mitigación del cambio climático” (WaCCliM, www.wacclim.org), proyecto implementado por la Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH y la Asociación Internacional del Agua, que forma parte de la Iniciativa Internacional de Protección del Clima (IKI) del Ministerio Federal de Medio Ambiente, Protección de la Naturaleza, y Seguridad Nuclear (BMU) de Alemania.

By Elaine Cheung and Tatiana Cuervo.


Mexico ambitiously committed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions when it ratified and formally joined the Paris Agreement in 2015. Today, almost three years later, the water sector in Mexico is showing promising results. Pilot utilities of the Water and Wastewater Companies for Climate Mitigation (WaCCliM) Project have achieved a reduction of more than 2,500 t CO2e each year.

Wastewater treatment plant operated by SITRATA

In Mexico, the water sector faces multiple challenges. Water and wastewater utilities have a difficult task meeting the water demand while offering low tariffs. This challenge, coupled with a complex regulatory framework, has led to unsustainable water abstraction practices. With rising water scarcity, Mexico’s water sector will face even more challenges during the coming decades. Greater focus on its energy requirements, GHG implications, clear GHG reduction targets as well as the recognition of numerous co-benefits of a circular economy of water will be a crucial part of the policy responses to these challenges.

Wastewater treatment plant operated by SITRATA

Despite these difficulties, Mexico’s water sector has a tremendous potential to foster a positive transition towards climate mitigation and adaptation. In order to achieve its goals, the Mexican government has included efficient water supply management, treatment of wastewater, and the recovery of energy as strategies to achieve its climate commitments. Consequently, since 2013, the WaCCliM Project has been supporting Mexican water utilities in taking actions to reduce their carbon footprint. Within this scope, the Energy Performance and Carbon Emissions Assessment and Monitoring (ECAM) tool was developed to help water utilities to identify their main GHG emission sources and saving opportunities in a holistic manner.

The WaCCliM project is a joint initiative between the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the International Water Association (IWA) and is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI). In Mexico, the WaCCliM project is working with the National Water Commission (CONAGUA) and the National Water Association of Mexico (ANEAS).

Technical visit to the wastewater treatment plant in San Jerónimo during the implementation of the WaCCliM project

The WaCCliM pilot utilities of San Francisco del Rincón, SAPAF and SITRATA, are pioneering the way towards sustainable, low-carbon urban water management. Following the WaCCliM roadmap, they have introduced innovative measures that resulted in energy consumption reductions of more than 25%. Likewise, they have lowered their operational costs and improved productivity: In 2016, the utility increased its wastewater treatment coverage by 30%. More than 2,500 t CO2e are now avoided each year, equivalent to annual emissions of 650 people living in Mexico[1]. Additionally, the operation of the biogas cogeneration system provides energy from the wastewater that would be sufficient to power 100 Mexican households[2]with clean energy. Besides economic and operational benefits, WaCCliM utilities are taking the lead in GHG emissions accounting and GHG mitigation in the water sector, seizing the opportunity to become more efficient and effective in an uncertain future.

A carbon-neutral development requires all sectors to innovate and pursue solutions to climate challenges. In Mexico, the water sector has taken a big step forward and is pioneering the way for other sectors and countries around the world.

[1] 3866 kg/capita/yr (2014), Source: World Bank

[2] 1652 kWh/hh/yr (2014), Source: World Energy Council



ECAM training workshop, hosted by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH in Mexico City from 7 to 8 February 2018, aimed to strengthen capacity building, and to support the application of technical tools in the field of climate change mitigation and carbon footprint reduction in water and wastewater utilities



Foto credits: SAPAF, GIZ México, Ranjin Fernando.

Peru is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. A low-lying coastal area, with vast arid and semi-arid lands, much of Peru is liable to floods, droughts and desertification. 72% of the total number of national emergencies are due to hydro-meteorological threats. Already struggling to secure a reliable supply to meet user’s demand, more frequent and severe natural disasters pose an increasing burden on water utilities in Peru. Huge differences in altitudes require enormous amounts of energy to distribute the water and lead to high energy costs.

The WaCCliM project in Peru cooperates with the General Directorate for Environmental Affairs under the Ministry of Housing, Construction and Sanitation, which is responsible for environmental policy in the water and sanitation sector including both mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

Mexico was seen as a leader during the Paris COP21 negotiations. It has committed ambitiously to reducing 22% of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to baseline scenario, with the potential to raise the target up to 40%, and 50% by 2050 compared to the year 2000. It is a signatory to the Paris Pact on Water and Adaptation to Climate Change. In Mexico, water utilities have a difficult task meeting user’s demands. Low tariffs, high water consumption, and a complicated legal framework have led to unsustainable water abstraction, high energy costs, high water loss, and inadequate wastewater treatment, which contribute to very high GHG emissions. Climate change will only exacerbate current conditions.

The WaCCliM project is working with the National Water Commission (CONAGUA), the State Water Commission of Guanajuato (CEAG), and the National Water Association of Mexico (ANEAS). The WaCCliM pilot utilities of San Francisco del Rincón, SAPAF and SITRATA, are already pioneering the way towards sustainable, low-carbon, urban water management. SAPAF provides water supply services, while SITRATA operates a wastewater treatment plant shared between two municipalities, San Francisco del Rincón and La Purísima. The raw water comes from groundwater wells and requires only disinfection. The drainage network does not require any pumping. The wastewater treatment plant is based on an activated sludge system.

Jordan is one of the world ́s most water-scarce countries. Energy consumption accounts for around 73 % of Jordan’s national emissions and 15 % of these are attributed to the water sector. Water pumping is responsible for the majority of this consumption and is estimated to increase twofold by 2030. Jordan is therefore facing a long-term need to reduce its water and energy consumption.

The WaCCliM project is demonstrating that the water sector can reduce GHG emissions: in the short-term by improving operational efficiency and adopting energy efficiency measures; in the long-term by proactively upgrading and reforming their drinking water and wastewater systems. Water utilities working with WaCCliM are becoming sector leaders, and are seizing the opportunity to become more efficient and effective in an uncertain future.

In the past, a healthy Mae Ping River ran through Chiang Mai in the northwestern part of Thailand. It flowed south, merging with three other rivers -Wang, Yom and Nan- to become the Chao Phraya River, Thailand’s major river and source of water for millions of people. The Ping River was part and parcel of the daily lives of Chiang Mai residents. “Water provided us with fish, crab and shells”, remembers an old Chiang Mai resident. “Once the water was clear but now it has become a smelly and polluted wastewater carrier”, says Mr. Surachet Nokham, Chiang Mai’s Wastewater Treatment Plant Manager.

A polluted river not only stirs residents’ nostalgic memories of past recreational activities in and along its waters; a filthy Ping River poses both human and environmental health issues, and may also threaten the image of Chiang Mai as the “Northern Rose” of Thailand.

One of the main drivers of pollution is the discharge of untreated domestic wastewater directly into the river. This results in a deterioration of water quality, which impacts on human and environmental health as well as releasing significant greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, a major contributor to climate change. Worldwide, about 80 % of all wastewater is discharged into the environment without any treatment, with many regions lacking the basic infrastructure to better manage wastewater. Treating the wastewater we release back to nature would address issues of water quality, environmental health and GHG emissions.

Thailand’s Wastewater Management Authority (WMA) was founded in 1980 to take responsibility for national wastewater management, and provide management and technical assistance to municipalities operating wastewater treatment systems. Mr. Chira Wongburana, Acting Director General of WMA, has recognized this as a priority, “The first and foremost water management issue that we need to address is to bring back clean water”.

Through the International Climate Initiative, the WMA is now working with the Water and Wastewater Companies for Climate Mitigation (WaCCliM) project to optimise wastewater management at pilot utilities in Chiang Mai, Hat Yai, Krabi and Sansuk. In Chang Mai, studies identified untreated wastewater flowing  into the public canals of the city as not only polluting its waterway so that they were no longer fit for bathing, but also that it was producing significant amounts of methane and nitrous oxide, both GHGs with a large global warming potential.

The utility plans to install gauging stations at five wastewater discharge points where the water flows into the Mae Kha canal to control the public canal of Chiang Mai City. Mr. Surachet expects “to see a better quality of water in several water courses”.

Wastewater treatment is not only a key piece of the solution to Thailand’s acute water pollution. In a country prone to the effects of climate change, where wastewater treatment accounts for about half of the total GHG emissions of the waste sector and contributes to high energy related emissions, wastewater treatment becomes an area with huge potential for mitigation measures. Participation from citizens, governments and the private sector are crucial to set this in motion.

“If we are able to take the steps at the sources of wastewater, less energy will be required in the treatment process, reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Having an efficient wastewater treatment system in the industrial sector, as well as participation from citizens in saving water and not throwing rubbish into water sources, will help reduce GHG from the wastewater sector”, stated WMA Director General, Mr. Chira. “If both the public sector and citizens participate, I believe Thailand can reach the reduction target of 20-25% by 2030 that it committed to at the climate change conference in 2015. We already have a roadmap for 2021-2030 and the wastewater sector will reduce its emissions by 3.6%”, he concluded.

Based on this roadmap, wastewater treatment can contribute up to 30% of the total GHG mitigation potential in the Thai waste sector. The water and wastewater sector can become a catalyst for climate action in other sectors within Thailand; if they succeed, Thais might once again swim and fish in the country’s waterways.

Watch this short documentary:

WaCCliM in Thailand from WaCCliM on Vimeo.

World’s first holistic tool to measure and report greenhouse gas emissions from urban water services launched

ECAM, a tool for the water sector to transition towards energy and carbon neutrality

The Energy Performance and Carbon Emissions Assessment and Monitoring (ECAM) tool enables water utilities to measure and manage their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and energy consumption at a system-wide level. By identifying areas to reduce GHG emissions, increase energy savings and improve overall efficiencies to reduce costs, ECAM offers a holistic approach for urban water utilities to shift to low energy, low carbon water management.

The water sector can make significant contributions to the Paris agreement target of keeping global temperature rise to well below 2º, and the respective Nationally Determined Contributions, although awareness of this opportunity is currently limited.

“The contribution of the water sector to greenhouse gas emissions is complex and therefore often under-recognised”, said Astrid Michels, Project Manager of the Water and Wastewater Companies for Climate Mitigation (WaCCliM) project that has developed the ECAM tool, “ECAM helps utilities develop an emissions baseline, identify areas of improvement to reduce indirect and direct emissions, and monitor progress over time.”

ECAM is a free and open source tool that has been successfully piloted by utilities in Jordan, Mexico, Peru and Thailand that participate in the WaCCliM project, to achieve dramatic reductions in GHG emissions:

San Francisco del Rincón, Mexico, has achieved almost a 50% reduction of its total GHG emissions compared to the baseline established with ECAM in 2014. This has been achieved through treating more wastewater to reduce methane emissions and improving pumping efficiency. Additional measures have been identified that would lead to a reduction of 65% in total emissions.

Cusco, Peru, has saved 5,300 t CO2 emissions per year, representing 20% of its total carbon emissions. A total GHG reduction potential of 30% has been identified through greater pumping efficiency and wastewater reuse.

Chiang Mai, Thailand, has used ECAM to establish a baseline for municipal wastewater treatment and identify a 12% GHG reduction potential.

Madaba, Jordan joined WaCCliM in 2016 and is using ECAM to assess its carbon footprint to unlock financing for low carbon water and wastewater infrastructure to help meet its GHG reduction potential.

In addition to the pilots, utilities in over 20 cities have now used the ECAM tool to assess and drive GHG reductions. ECAM was recently endorsed by the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group as a means to empower cities around the world to measure the emissions of their urban water, identify and plan reduction measures, and shift to a low-carbon, resilient future.

Ricardo Cepeda-Marquez, Head of the Water & Waste Initiative at C40 CITIES, said: “As cities and water utilities recognize the significant opportunities to reduce GHG emissions, improve service quality, water and energy efficiency in water supply and wastewater treatment, tools like ECAM are helping them to focus on the areas of largest potential impact and economic return. The C40 Cities organization looks forward to collaborate on the WaCCliM Project to increase the ambition of cities and water utilities to reduce emissions in the water sector and to contribute towards meeting the Paris Agreement targets.”


Notes to Editors

ECAM is a free and open source tool developed by the International Water Association (IWA), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the Catalan Institute for Water Research (ICRA).

ECAM is a central component of the WaCCliM project, part of the International Climate Initiative. The German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) supports this initiative on the basis of a decision adopted by the German Bundestag.

ECAM tool development was based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories methodology. It provides the opportunity to develop scenarios and model reduction impacts of future measures, as well as to monitor GHG reduction results after their implementation. It can help utilities prepare for future reporting needs on climate mitigation. ECAM also assists in linking Monitoring, Reporting and Verification of mitigation actions in the water sector to national level.

For further information please visit www.wacclim.org/ecam-tool/ or contact:

Marta Jiménez, Tel: +31 631.934.081; email: marta.jimenez@iwahq.org

Astrid Michels, Tel: +49 6196 79 – 3248; email: astrid.michels@giz.de

The Energy Performance and Carbon Emissions Assessment and Monitoring (ECAM) tool is a free web-based tool that is designed for assessing the carbon emissions that utilities can control within the urban water cycle and prepare these utilities for future reporting needs on climate mitigation. Access ECAM training material and try it now: wacclim.org/ecam !

If you have questions regarding the ECAM tool, please have a look at our FAQ’s guide.

Contact us at info@wacclim.org  if you have further questions.