The Wastewater Management Authority (WMA) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH organised a closing ceremony for the Water and Wastewater Companies for Climate Mitigation (WaCCliM) project in Thailand. WaCCliM Thailand has supported the introduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation measures in the wastewater system of 4 pilot areas.

With the world focusing its efforts on limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 ºC, every sector has started planning how it can achieve the reduction target. According to the Thailand Greenhouse Gas Management Organization (TGO), 47.5 percent of GHG emissions from the waste sector come from wastewater management, making up 2 percent of national emissions. To reduce national emissions, Thailand has issued a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) roadmap (2021 – 2030). The reduction target for wastewater management is 700,000 tons carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent by 2030.

Water and Wastewater Companies for Climate Mitigation or WaCCliM Project is funded through the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU). The project was initiated in 2014 with the global objective to reduce the carbon footprint of water and wastewater utilities by introducing carbon-reducing measures while maintaining or improving performance, and supporting the development of a new strategy and framework for climate mitigation in the water and wastewater sector. The experiences gained from the project approach in each pilot area will be integrated into a national guideline for water and wastewater utilities to move towards carbon neutrality. In Thailand, the WaCCliM project has worked in 4 pilot areas, namely Chiang Mai, Songkhla, Krabi and Chonburi provinces, advising on mitigation measures to improve performance and reduce carbon emissions. In the meantime, WaCCliM Thailand has also supported the Wastewater Management Authority (WMA) in developing a new framework for domestic wastewater utilities in relation to climate mitigation. The results from project implementation will serve as guidelines for other wastewater utilities in Thailand.

One of the results from this cooperation is the ECAM (Energy performance and Carbon emissions Assessment and Monitoring) Tool, the first assessment tool for water and wastewater utilities to estimate GHG emissions and which can be used for Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV). From the initial estimation in the Thai pilot areas, around 7,500 tons CO2 equivalent can be avoided each year, a 28 percent reduction compared to business-as-usual (BAU).

Mr. Chira Wongburana, Acting Director General of Wastewater Management Authority (WMA) noted that climate change is one of the areas to which WMA is giving priority. “We are therefore working closely with municipalities to provide high-quality wastewater treatment services, while increasing awareness of domestic wastewater management and the impact on water resources from improper management. Since climate change can be affected from wastewater management; electricity consumption and treatment processes, there is an opportunity from wastewater sector to support climate mitigation. We also plan to use ECAM Tool for planning a strategy to achieve climate mitigation in domestic wastewater sector of Thailand in the future. The ECAM Tool we received from the WaCCliM project is applied to the results and used within the Thailand Wastewater Monitoring and Reporting Center. This reports the GHG emissions results from real-time electricity consumption and these results will be reported and can be viewed through our web page. This tool is open and free to access via wacclim.org. The website also provides methodology guidelines and training documents for interested organisations who would like to assess GHG emissions from the water sector. With the project now ending, WMA is ready to go beyond the project scope and use the ECAM Tool on other domestic wastewater utilities for which WMA has responsibility.”

Ms. Chutima Jongpakdee, WaCCliM project manager, GIZ Thailand said “During the 4 years of cooperation, WaCCliM Thailand has supported WMA by proposing mitigation measures to improve the performance of the domestic wastewater system and develop a strategy which will serve as a framework for climate mitigation in the domestic wastewater sector. The most important component in achieving the reduction target sustainably is quality of data. GIZ together with the International Water Association (IWA) have thus focused on capacity building of WMA staff over the 4 years, providing them with knowledge on how GHG emissions in wastewater systems are produced both directly and indirectly, as well as training them in using the ECAM Tool so they are able to assess GHG emissions by themselves. This approach raised awareness among WMA staff involved in data collection and operating the treatment system and helped them understand why collecting data is essential to assess the level of emissions produced from their system. This improved quality of data is important for developing a national framework on climate mitigation in the domestic wastewater sector. The final developed framework will be feasible and achievable. The sector will then support local authorities in moving towards a low carbon society.”

Closing remarks of Ms. Chutima Jongpakdee, WaCCliM project manager, GIZ Thailand

In the state of Guanajuato in Mexico, two water utilities in San Francisco del Rincón and Purísima del Rincón participated between 2014 and 2018 as pilot utilities in an innovative approach to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through improved efficiency of water and wastewater treatment services.

The urban water cycle in Mexico accounts for up to 5% of the total GHG emissions in the country. In order to reduce their emissions and to save costs at the same time, the two utilities pioneered implementation of the Roadmap to a Low-Carbon Urban Water Utility in Mexico. SAPAF (Sistema de Agua Potable y Alcantarillado de San Francisco) operates the utility that is responsible for the water supply and sewage collection in San Francisco del Rincón, while SITRATA (Servicio de Tratamiento y Deposición de Aguas Residuales) is responsible for operating the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) shared by the two municipalities. Together, they applied the roadmap developed by the Water and Wastewater Companies for Climate Mitigation (WaCCliM) project, a joint initiative by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the International Water Association (IWA). It focuses on mitigation and also helps raise awareness to ensure that water utilities play an active role in reducing their carbon footprint instead of merely adapting to the consequences of climate change.

Diego Dávila (left), Director of SITRATA, describing aspects of the biogas storage unit to the personnel of other WWTPs in the state of Guanajuato; Photo: © Jürgen Baumann

Diego Dávila (left), Director of SITRATA, describing aspects of the biogas storage unit to the personnel of other WWTPs in the state of Guanajuato; Photo: © Jürgen Baumann

As part of the roadmap, an initial baseline assessment of the two utilities identified untreated wastewater as the main source of GHG emissions in the urban water cycle. Consequently, SAPAF constructed collectors to increase the wastewater treatment coverage, thus avoiding 2,500 tonnes CO2-eq per year, which is equivalent to the annual emissions of 830 compact cars per yearand represents a reduction of 40% of the total emissions in their operation area.

The increased wastewater received by the common wastewater treatment plant posed a new challenge to SITRATA, which had to treat a larger volume without access to additional funds. To overcome this problem, the utility focused on two aspects: optimising the aeration process and improving biogas production to generate electricity for internal consumption. SITRATA managed to reduce the energy consumption per cubic meter treated by approximately 10% and produces 155,000 kWh annually through its cogeneration system using the methane generated in the anaerobic sludge digestion process; work is ongoing to increase this amount.

Cogeneration system in the San Gerónimo WWTP operated by SITRATA; Photo: © Andrés Rojo

Cogeneration system in the San Gerónimo WWTP operated by SITRATA; Photo: © Andrés Rojo

Following the lead of SAPAF and SITRATA, the utility in Moroleón, SMAPAM (Sistema Municipal de Agua Potable y Alcantarillado Moroleon), has also started to implement the WaCCliM approach. Efficiency measures in the water supply system have already led to a reduction of 6% in the electricity SMAPAM consumes for pumping. This includes replacing the least efficient pumps in the system and implementing programmes to reduce water consumption by the population, thus leading to less water needing to be pumped and as a result water and energy being conserved. The next step for the utility is to identify and reduce water losses in the distribution system, which are directly related to high energy consumption. WaCCliM is supporting the analysis of water losses and modelling of the distribution network.

In the neighbouring state of Querétaro, assessment studies on pumping stations supported by the WaCCliM project have led the State Water Commission of Querétaro to allocate 2 million pesos (approx. EUR 100,000) to implementing measures to enhance the efficiency of the pumping stations. In Chihuahua, a state located in the north of Mexico, the utility in Parral has also showed great interest in the WaCCliM approach. After an initial energy performance evaluation supported by the WaCCliM project and the renovation of some of its equipment, the utility is using its own funds to continue with additional studies, including the modelling of the distribution network and identification of possible points to optimise in the operating system.

These success stories in Mexico will encourage other water and wastewater utilities to contribute to climate change mitigation while improving service levels and reducing operational costs.

 

This article was originally published on the International Climate Initiative website.


1The number of cars was determined using the emission factor of CO2 (g/km) per car model, assuming that a car travels a total of 15,000 km per year. A mean emission value of nearly 3 tonnes/car per year was calculated. http://www.ecovehiculos.gob.mx/ecovehiculos/ (in Spanish)