WaCCliM’s ‘Energy Performance and Carbon Emissions Assessment and Monitoring’ (ECAM) tool enables water and wastewater utilities to assess their carbon footprint and energy consumption, while revealing areas of improvement. As utilities around the world adopt the tool, WaCCliM has rolled out an advanced upgrade with ECAM 3.0, launched last week.

By identifying areas to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy savings and improve overall efficiencies, ECAM offers a holistic approach for urban water utilities to shift to climate-smart water management. It also prepares these utilities for future reporting needs on climate mitigation. Intended for utilities of all sizes and in all countries, the tool is free, open source, and available now on the WaCCliM website.

Utilities do not have to collect any special data or create an account to plug into ECAM. The tool works with the operational data that utility managers and operators use every day. If some data is unavailable, ECAM provides complementary assumptions based on Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) models. WaCCliM has developed ECAM from the start to be consistent with the IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories and peer-reviewed literature.

What can utilities do for the climate?

The water sector is estimated to contribute around 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide from its electricity consumption and emissions of methane and nitrous oxide from wastewater handling. As cities everywhere grow and urban water demands rise, utilities have to act fast to avoid even higher emissions. Those that succeed can make a significant contribution to national mitigation plans and the global effort against runaway climate change.

For utilities that face this challenge, ECAM is a powerful analytic tool. It allows them to assess energy performance and carbon emissions throughout the urban water cycle, from abstraction and distribution to wastewater treatment and sludge management, adapting to the scope of analysis of each utility. It represents the first step toward a smart and sustainable urban water system with lower emissions and lower vulnerability to the local impacts of climate change. Moreover, it allows users to check and update the equations for accounting greenhouse gases, making users co-protagonists of the tool.

Utilities in more than 20 countries – as geographically diverse as Burkina Faso, Egypt, Jordan, Mexico, Peru and Zambia, among others – have put ECAM into action. These companies use it to understand emissions at a system-wide level and to evaluate where energy is consumed at each stage, with visualizations and reports allowing them to easily identify opportunities to cut emissions and simultaneously cut costs. It helps them develop scenarios, model reduction impacts of planned or implemented measures, report mitigation achievements, and even develop ideas for bankable projects such as biogas valorization or wastewater reuse.

Finally, WaCCliM is expecting to extend the use of ECAM to support urban water utilities in reducing carbon emissions systematically and strategically to assure business continuity and sustainable and effective water management under a changing climate.