Water & Wastewater Companies for Climate Mitigation (WaCCliM)
Climate change is aggravating the challenges that water and wastewater utilities face. At the same time the supply of water and the treatment of used water lead to substantial greenhouse gas emissions. This is partly on account of water losses and higher than necessary energy consumption. WaCCliM, the Water and Wastewater Companies for Climate Mitigation Project, supports utilities on the path towards climate neutrality, while engaging with national governments and the international water and climate community.
The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the International Water Association (IWA) are working together with their partners from Mexico, Peru and Thailand on the WaCCliM project to improve the carbon balance of water and wastewater utilities in the three countries and beyond. This project is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI). 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.
Challenges and Opportunities
Water and wastewater companies are typically energy intensive (10% – 35% of their total operational costs). The Carbon footprint of water and wastewater Utilities can be reduced through energy efficiency measures, including water loss reduction, but also through reducing the direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions from wastewater treatment plants (methane and nitrous oxide), for example by reusing treated effluent on crops.
By updating technologies and management processes in water and wastewater companies into more energy-efficient systems, as well as recovering energy, nutrients and other materials from wastewater, there are excellent opportunities for improving the carbon balance of water and wastewater companies and thus contributing to climate change mitigation. Implementing such measures has multiple benefits as it allows utilities to reduce their operational costs, improve their service to the public and protect the environment.