In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Peru’s sanitation service providers continue to fulfil their responsibilities to provide safe and reliable water and sanitation services for the population, although many of them are already facing insufficient resources, staff shortages and disruptions in the supply chain of chemicals and personal protective equipment, which may affect the service continuity.

In particular, as far as wastewater is concerned, service providers need to adopt measures for preventing COVID-19´s spread among their personnel and ensuring wastewater treatment´s continuity while protecting the environment and climate. Proper wastewater management will not only address the pandemic but also move towards ensuring urban water security and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

As the pandemic progresses, service providers will require measures to prepare for, respond to and recover from the pandemic, and to ensure wastewater treatment´s continuity in changing situations.

As an example, the Cusco city´s service provider (SEDACUSCO), with the support of the Swiss Cooperation – SECO and the German Development Cooperation implemented by GIZ, through WaCCliM and PROAGUA II, has drawn up a Pandemic COVID-19 Contingency Plan for its Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) San Jerónimo, focusing on protecting personnel´s health, maintaining essential operations, facilities, equipment and supplies, and communicating with customers and government authorities.

The Contingency Plan of the wastewater treatment plant San Jerónimo analyzes critical processes to ensure continuity of operations in the face of personnel shortages; critical inputs and materials to overcome interruptions in the supply chain, and strategies in case critical services and/or contracts cannot be executed.

This Contingency Plan is part of a tool series for sanitation service providers to ensure the services´ continuity in the face of the pandemic, benefiting thousands of Peruvians and moving towards a carbon neutral and climate resilient recovery.

This good practice example of SEDACUSCO water and wastewater utility is very important for replicating with other service providers across the country, who are still adapting to operating wastewater treatment systems in the face of the pandemic, while protecting the environment and climate.

“Estas reuniones [virtuales] son una oportunidad para intercambiar información que contribuirán con la nueva propuesta del Plan Nacional de Saneamiento y los Planes Regionales.”

Así lo mencionó la Ing. Mary Tesen (Especialista Sectorial de la Dirección de Saneamiento (DS) del Ministerio de Vivienda, Construcción y Saneamiento – MVCS), al finalizar la primera reunión virtual, realizada el 23 de abril del presente, en el marco de la actualización de los Planes de Saneamiento.

La reunión tuvo como objetivo brindar una inducción a los profesionales de la DS, sobre los compromisos, desafíos y oportunidades del sector saneamiento para la implementación de las Contribuciones Determinadas a Nivel Nacional (NDC) y el logro del ODS 6. Dichos profesionales son los encargados del proceso de actualización de los Planes Regionales y Plan Nacional de Saneamiento y asegurar la planificación de los servicios de saneamiento en armonía con el ambiente y el clima.

En particular se abordaron temas como la contribución de las Empresas Prestadoras de Servicios de Saneamiento (EPS) al cumplimiento de las NDC a través del desarrollo e implementación de los Planes de Mitigación y Adaptación al Cambio Climático (PMACC); así como el estado actual del Registro Único del Proceso de Adecuación Progresiva (RUPAP) de las descargas de aguas residuales generadas por las EPS, que afectan la calidad de los cuerpos de agua receptores; y el consiguiente impacto en la seguridad del abastecimiento de agua urbano e incremento de las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero (GEI), aspectos a considerar en los futuros Planes de Saneamiento.

La inducción fue desarrollada por la Dirección General de Asuntos Ambientales (DGAA) del MVCS, con el apoyo de la Cooperación Suiza – SECO y la cooperación alemana para el desarrollo, implementada por la GIZ, a través de WaCCliM y PROAGUA II, contando con la participación de 25 personas; y es un buen ejemplo de la utilidad de la tecnología digital para asegurar la continuidad de los procesos en la actual coyuntura.

Esta reunión fue la primera de una serie de reuniones virtuales que se realizarán entre las direcciones del MVCS para concretar el proceso de actualización de los Planes Regionales y Plan Nacional de Saneamiento, incluyendo objetivos y metas respecto a las NDC y ODS 6.

“These [virtual] meetings are an opportunity for information exchange, which will contribute to the new proposal of the National Water and Sanitation Plan and the Regional Water and Sanitation Plans.”

These are the words of Mary Tesen (Sector Specialist from the Sanitation Directorate of the Peruvian Ministry of Housing, Construction and Sanitation – Ministerio de Vivienda, Construcción y Saneamiento; MVCS), concluding the first virtual meeting, which took place on 23 April of this year in the context of updating the water and sanitation plans.

The objective of the meeting was to brief the professionals of the Sanitation Directorate on the commitments, challenges and opportunities for the water sector in implementing Peru’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) on climate change and achieve the Sustainable Development Goal on water (SDG 6). These professionals are in charge of updating the Regional Water and Sanitation Plans and the National Water and Sanitation Plan and ensuring the compliance of water services planning with environmental and climate concerns.

Specifically, the virtual meeting discussed issues such as the water and wastewater utilities’ contributions to the NDCs through the development and implementation of Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Plans (Planes de Mitigación y Adaptación al Cambio Climático; PMACC); as well as the current status of the Single Registry of the Progressive Adjustment Process (Registro Único del Proceso de Adecuación Progresiva; RUPAP) on wastewater discharge, which is generated by the utilities, affecting the quality of receiving water bodies. This in turn can impact urban water supply security and increase greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – relevant aspects to consider in the future water and sanitation plans.

The briefing session was delivered by the General Directorate for Environmental Affairs (Dirección General de Asuntos Ambientales; DGAA) of the MVCS, with the support of the Swiss Cooperation – SECO and the German Development Cooperation, implemented by GIZ, through the WaCCliM and PROAGUA II projects. 25 people assisted the online meeting; a good practice case study of applying digital technology for ensuring process continuity under the current circumstances.

This meeting was the first out of a series of virtual meetings, which will take place among MVCS directorates in order to carry out the update process of the Regional Water and Sanitation Plans and the National Water and Sanitation Plan, including NDC- and SDG 6-related objectives and targets.

Picture in header: © GIZ

As the world adjusts day by day to the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic, research findings from the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment have driven home the importance of smart water and wastewater utilities across the globe. The presence of the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) in Dutch wastewater outflows and Treatment plants, flushed down the toilet by infected people, is a useful way for researchers to chart whether the disease is present in specific populations – a strategy that has been used for other viruses in the past. However, the fact that SARS-CoV-2 can persist in wastewater signals a larger worry for populations around the world that lack the facilities and protocols in place in the Netherlands. These uncommon times highlight inequalities in access to safe water and sanitation that are, unfortunately, quite common.

With whole economies coming to a halt, greenhouse gas emissions have stalled. But this does not mean climate action should be put on hold during the present crisis triggered by COVID-19. In the longer term, we don’t need to choose between the health of people and the health of the planet. Smarter systems, such as those advocated by WaCCliM, can easily serve both. When a resource-constrained utility is able to increase water and energy efficiency by replacing old pumps or fixing leaking pipes, it can also extend water and sanitation access to more households at a lower operating cost, and boost their resilience to the challenges posed by diseases such as COVID-19. Similarly, better wastewater treatment that prevents contamination and disease transmission can also enable a drastic reduction in the greenhouse gas emissions that otherwise seep out of untreated wastewater.

Case Study Mexico (2018)

WaCCliM pilot utilities have proven that cross-sectoral results can be achieved by interventions in the water and sanitation sector. For example, two utilities serving San Francisco del Rincón, Mexico, the Wastewater Treatment and Deposition Service (SITRATA) and San Francisco Drinking Water and Sewage System (SAPAF), have together achieved emissions reductions that are equivalent to planting 12,400 trees every year – and they have done it by expanding wastewater treatment coverage from less than half of their city to more than 80%, making San Francisco del Rincón cleaner, safer and greener all at once.

The governments and water ministries with whom we partner have their own essential roles to play: expanding desperately needed water and sanitation access; adapting systems to climate risks that threaten shortages or water contamination; and enabling utilities to shrink their carbon footprints. Understanding the linkages between sectors through the challenges and solutions to health crises such as COVID-19 involves recognising that individual precautions are important, but we also need systems that can sustain communities in the long term.

 

Finally, the crisis has put one other old truism in a new perspective: that water connects everyone. Water ties people together in health, in vulnerability, and not least in responsibility. At WaCCliM, we are proud to give water and wastewater utilities the tools to make those connections work for the common good, both at this crucial time and far into the future.

As global temperatures rise, it is the water cycle that is changing most dramatically, most unpredictably, and with some of the greatest consequences for people everywhere. Climate change is disrupting water availability and quality, amplifying floods and storms, and increasing the frequency of droughts. For water-sector decision makers, all of these impacts add up to a fundamental disruption: decisions that were once based on historical data are now afloat in uncertainties about the climate of the future.

At the same time, the water sector is, itself, a place to take on the drivers of climate change. The sector currently contributes up to 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and with demand for water set to increase by 20-30% [1] in the next 30 years, its emissions will only rise – unless something is done.

Municipal systems, global commitments

Strong mitigation potential lies in urban water and wastewater systems, whose energy consumption, mostly driven by fossil fuels, makes up as much as 40% of municipal energy use in some cities. In developing and emerging countries, water and wastewater utilities often rely on inefficient pumps, leaky distribution lines and dated treatment technologies. They emit carbon dioxide from their energy use, and even more potent greenhouse gases – methane and nitrous oxide – from the breakdown of untreated or poorly treated sewage. Since 2014, the project Water and Wastewater Companies for Climate Mitigation (WaCCliM) has been working with selected countries and utilities to prove that in the urban water sector, climate mitigation action can be achieved alongside, and in harmony with, climate-resilient sustainable development.

WaCCliM’s experience has shown that the flow of water into, through and out of cities connects some of the largest commitments of developing and emerging countries. Among these, two stand largest: the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) that governments have pledged in order to reach the climate targets of the Paris Agreement; and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that they are striving to achieve by 2030.

Clean water and sanitation command their own SDG, Goal 6, but in truth water runs through nearly all of the goals, and unites them with success or failure in climate action. Even in a stable climate, countries would be facing an enormous challenge just to reach Goal 6 – availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. Billions of people still live without safe water, sanitation or both, and the effects undermine other goals like health, equality and the vision of sustainable cities. Now the uncertainties of the climate require thinking even harder about water insecurity, including in cities; about which people have as much water as they need without having more than they can manage, about how clean that water will be under all possible conditions, and about how to generate the energy that will get it there.

A climate-smart roadmap

WaCCliM’s Roadmap to a Low-Carbon Urban Water Utility, a tool for water and wastewater utilities with mitigation goals. © GIZ

The NDCs that countries have submitted reveal an awareness of just how central water is to climate adaptation. According to a Global Water Partnership analysis of 80 NDCs, investing in water infrastructure, institutions or governance is a key priority in 89% of the surveyed countries, and practically all countries indicate that some kind of water action is necessary for adaptation. Far fewer NDCs, however, mention the substantial opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions found in the urban water and wastewater sector. It’s here that WaCCliM is guiding countries to mitigation opportunities, starting at the utility level.

The Project has introduced a roadmap of systematic steps and measures towards low-carbon water and wastewater utilities that can also plan for climate risks and improve their services to better support sustainable development. Helping utilities on this path is the project’s Energy Performance and Carbon Emissions Assessment and Monitoring Tool (ECAM), which any utility can use to assess its emissions and pinpoint opportunities to use less energy – or even generate its own energy.

From the utility up

WaCCliM has piloted mitigation solutions, ranging from energy-efficient pumps to technologies for generating power with wastewater biodigesters, with utilities in Jordan, Mexico, Peru and Thailand. The measures prioritised in these pilots have achieved total mitigation equivalent to 10,000 tons of carbon dioxide – or planting 50,000 trees – per year. WaCCliM is also introducing adaptation thinking by helping the pilot utilities develop climate risk plans, advising utility personnel on ways to build water system resilience to the risks identified, reducing water losses and recycling treated wastewater. The toolbox of both mitigation and adaptation planning measures will be available to utilities everywhere on the knowledge platform Climate Smart Water.

Water metering in Moroleón, Mexico. © GIZ/Maurice Ressel

Through these tools WaCCliM´s approach can substantially help meet NDCs across developing and emerging countries, and by building climate-smart urban water systems, it can help achieve the SDGs, too. This is a big vision, and it has to be achieved on a local, national and global scale. So while WaCCliM works with national and international partners to enable local action, it does this with a larger transformation in mind. The water and wastewater utilities using WaCCliM tools to pioneer greenhouse gas benchmarking and climate-smart planning are becoming national sector leaders, and they are providing evidence for an increased consideration of water as a sector for combined mitigation and adaptation action in the next round of NDCs. As that happens, they will also be poised to make a significant contribution to the sustainable development agenda.

 

Sources:
[1] UN Water (2019): World Water Development Report 2019

Team building walk to the Seven Mountains
©GIZ/Elaine Cheung
13.-15.11.2019 Bad Honnef, Germany

The Strategy Workshop of the global project Water and Wastewater Companies for Climate Mitigation (WaCCliM) brought together its team, coming from Germany, Jordan, Mexico and Peru.

The event aimed at defining the strategic lines and activities of the project’s new extension phase, as well as the exchange of experiences among countries, the recapitulation of lessons learnt and team building. The workshop comprised several interactive activities, presentations and personal as well as professional exchanges among the team members, including a meaningful walk along the Rhine River to the Seven Mountains.

The active participation of the team allowed the strategic construction of future project activities to strengthen the assistance to water and wastewater companies in climate change mitigation. Additionally, the project defined the outlines to include the resilience component through the search for co-benefits in adaptation, as well as the sustainability of the project in its final stage in 2022. Likewise, strategic lines were set out for the implementation of the digital component in the urban water sector and the institutionalization of the elaborated tools. Furthermore, the team identified the opportunities for actions of the water sector towards the fulfillment of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) of each partner country.

Impressions of the Workshop ©GIZ/Elaine Cheung

Water and energy consumption are strongly linked. In order to have the adequate quantity and pressure of water in our households, water must be pumped from a reservoir to a treatment plant and then to a distribution system. This is a highly energy consuming process. For utilities, energy consumption is usually a major item of expenditure. The water sector consumes up to 4% of the worldwide electricity generation. Water supply systems are responsible for around 40% of this consumption, 80% of which is accounted for pumping systems [1,2]. Inadequate calibration and aging of equipment result in energy losses, which can lead to a significant decrease of the pumping system’s efficiency and increase the energy costs for utilities. This lays out significant potential for energy and cost efficiency improvement and, at the same time, for reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Climate change is not the only challenge for the water management in Jordan. With one of the lowest levels of water availability per capita, Jordan is among the most water-scare countries in the world [3]. Water scarcity and meeting the demand for water supply are major problems the country faces nowadays. The circumstances will be aggravated in the future due to population growth, refugee influx and economic development, which will increase the water demand.  Moreover, the depth of the groundwater reservoirs and the large distances to end-consumers, make pumping systems and transport of water the most energy intensive processes, representing around 14% of the country’s overall energy consumption.

The company Miyahuna operates the water supply system in the city of Madaba. Aiming to face the growing challenges of water demand and seeking co-benefits in climate change mitigation and adaptation, the project WaCCliM (Water and Wastewater Companies for Climate Mitigation) assists the water company in the look of opportunities for energy, costs and GHG reduction measures.

A baseline study was conducted to identify opportunities for GHG and energy reduction using ECAM (Energy Performance and Carbon Emissions Assessment and Monitoring), a tool that enables utilities to quantifiy their carbon footprint. The results showed that the energy consumption of the pumping system for water supply is the highest energy consumer and GHG emission source, with approximately 27,250,000 kWh/year and the related GHG emissions around 17,547,000 kgCO2eq/year.

Improvement scenarios for the pumping system were analysed using ECAM. As shown in Fig.1, the impact of installing new pumps would save up more than 650,000 MWh/year, resulting in the avoidance of more than 400,000 kgCO2eq/year.

Fig. 1. Energy savings and avoidance of CO2 emissions in Miyahuna, Madaba, Jordan

After analysing the benefits, the company decided to improve the pumping system by installing six new horizontal centrifugal pumps, three of them (400m³/hour/60m) with motor power equal to 110 kW, and the remaining three (400m³/hour/200m) with motor power equal to 355 kW. The new pumps installed in Miyahuna are energy efficient and controlled by Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) to maximize the energetic and economic savings (Fig. 2). The first readings since July 2019 show that the monthly energy consumption has decreased by more than 40% when comparing to the same months in 2018, and energy costs were reduced by almost half.

Fig. 2. Comparison between former and new pumping system ©MIYAHUNA

 

This initiative helped the company to:

The company Miyahuna has not only improved the energy efficiency in its system, but has adopted a low-carbon, climate-friendly policy and is now a leader of carbon-neutral water utilities.

 

Sources:

  1. World Energy Outlook (2016): Water-Energy Nexus. International Energy Agency. https://www.iea.org/publications/freepublications/publication/WorldEnergyOutlook2016ExcerptWaterEnergyNexus.pdf
  2. Coelho, B.; Andrade-Campos, A (2014): Efficiency achievement in water supply systems–A review. Renew. Sustain. Energy Rev. 30, 59–84.
  3. World Health Organization (WHO) (2019): Jordan: Water is life. https://www.who.int/heli/pilots/jordan/en/

The WaCCliM project will be extended until 12/2022. WaCCliM supports a low-carbon and resilient urban water sector in Jordan, Mexico, Peru and globally. Following a positive response to WaCCliM’s assistance on climate change mitigation to the water and wastewater utilities in the partner countries, the extension of the project seeks to incorporate resilience in the water and wastewater utilities, support in the implementation of climate objectives relevant to the water sector and the institutionalization of the developed tools.

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The transition to low-carbon urban water utilities is an innovative idea, currently embraced only by a few forward-thinking utilities. Early adopters of the WaCCliM Roadmap to a Low-Carbon Urban Water Utility are well positioned for an uncertain water-climate future. This roadmap is directed at urban water utility managers in charge of planning future actions, as well as at the stakeholders who will support the utility’s action plans.

“The Roadmap to a Low-Carbon Urban Water Utility, a legacy from the WaCCliM project, builds on the experiences gained during the implementation of the project. It will support water utility managers around the world in their efforts to improve performance and achieve carbon neutrality of their utilities while raising the awareness of policy-makers to the substantial contributions the water sector can provide in meeting greenhouse-gas reduction targets. Local action is needed to support global targets!”

Thomas Stratenwerth, Head of Division – General, European and International Water Management Issues
Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Germany

 

The Roadmap to a Low-Carbon Urban Water Utility presents water professionals with an approach to address their most pressing challenges, while reducing carbon emissions through measures that either have a return on investment through energy or water savings, or that correspond to planned investments as part of the asset management plan to maintain or improve their services. Utilities adopting this approach are contributing to a carbon-neutral future, by instigating a change of mind-set, not only in urban water management but also by inspiring all other urban services through sharing the risks and the urgency to act to avoid aggravated impacts of climate change, from which water utilities are among the first victims: water scarcity, flooding and deteriorated water quality.

Why a roadmap and for whom?

The transition to low-carbon urban water utilities is an innovative idea, currently embraced only by a few forward-thinking utilities. This roadmap is directed at urban water utility managers in charge of planning future actions, as well as at the stakeholders who will support the utility’s action plans. Since only a few ‘early adopter’ utilities have embarked on a low-carbon transition, this roadmap intends to support other utilities in understanding and championing the need for contributing to a carbon-neutral future, and to guide them through a process of change. This roadmap can be applied to all utilities worldwide, but was specifically developed with utilities in emerging economies in mind, because the service performance and data management challenges are often prominent in their operations and future planning.

Setting a path for utilities to transition to low-carbon

The Water and Wastewater Companies for Climate Mitigation (WaCCliM) project supports potable water and wastewater utilities –also referred to as urban water utilities – with the implementation of measures that enhance their service performance and lower their carbon emissions. The project is a global initiative, with the overarching goal to transition to a carbon-neutral urban water sector. The approach laid out in this document was specifically developed with water utilities in emerging economies in mind within the context of the WaCCliM project, but it can serve utilities anywhere as climate change is a global problem. It targets reducing the water, energy and carbon footprints of urban water utilities through an iterative five-step process which may be used by utilities to find their own path to a low-carbon future. The roadmap is intended to guide urban water utility managers through these steps and leads to resources hosted on the Knowledge Platform ‘Climate Smart Water’, which follows the same structure as this roadmap.

The Roadmap to a Low-Carbon Urban Water Utility is available in English, Spanish and Thai.

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.