The water sector is increasingly being impacted by climate change. It also contributes more than 5 percent of global carbon emissions from its energy consumption, direct emissions of greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide from wastewater systems, and water heating from end users. Water loss in distribution networks and higher than necessary energy consumption are contributing factors.
WaCCliM (the Water and Wastewater Companies for Climate Change) is working with pilot water utilities in four countries, developing a road map to guide them towards energy and carbon neutrality.
Mexico, the national challenge
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.
GHG emissions in Mexico
The 14th largest GHG contributor and leading the way towards progressive climate actions
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from urban water services: a significant contribution to Mexico’s carbon targets
Mexico’s water sector contributes significantly to its overall greenhouse gas emissions. Taken together drinking water and wastewater, and end user heating contribute up to 5% of Mexico’s total GHG emissions.
WaCCliM in Mexico
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.
The WaCCliM pilot has assisted both utilities to assess their current situation and identify significant measures to reduce emissions by over 12% on water supply and 20% on wastewater in addition to the 30% reduction associated to increasing wastewater coverage.
This includes greater treatment of wastewater, energy produced from biogas and energy savings. Further promising energy saving measures are being investigated for both drinking water and wastewater systems to reduce both GHG emissions and operating costs.
GHG emissions reduction measures within the urban water cycle of Guanajuato. Illustration: © 2017 Creative Republic
WaCCliM water utilities
The utility SAPAF serves a population of 128,000, some 95% of whom are connected to the water supply, 81% have wastewater collection coverage, and just last year wastewater collected and treated increased from 48% to 81%. This resulted in an immediate 30% reduction in emissions per person.
The utility SITRATA serves a population of around 158,000 for wastewater treatment.
Energy costs make up 22% of total running costs. This presents a financial driver for further reducing GHG emissions and operating costs, improving services, and increasing wastewater treatment.