An integrated energy, carbon, and economic analysis of reclaimed water use in Austin, Texas

Ashlynn Suzanne Stillwell, Kelly M. Twomey, Michael E. Webber, Rusty Osborne, David M. Greene, Dan W. Pedersen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

As water supplies become increasingly strained, some municipalities have turned to reclaimed water as a potential low-carbon source to meet non-potable needs. Such reclaimed water - that is, wastewater effluent treated to appropriate quality standards - is not suitable for human consumption, but can be used for purposes such as irrigation and cooling that have limited human exposure. One reclaimed water distribution system of particular interest is at the University of Texas at Austin. This retrofit construction project receives treated effluent from the City of Austin Walnut Creek wastewater treatment plant distributed through a network of pipes ("purple pipe") using high service pumps and a reclaimed water tower. Depending on the embedded energy of existing water sources, existing levels of wastewater treatment, and the extent of a distribution network, water reuse can save energy and carbon emissions, at the expense of high up-front capital costs. Our analysis examines the embedded energy and carbon emissions in drinking water and reclaimed water for non-potable use at the University of Texas campus using EPANet modeling software and historical datasets. We complete our analysis by examining the overall economics of reclaimed water use, including capital and operating costs for a variety of amortization periods, financing costs, and externality costs using a levelized-cost of water methodology. This integrated analysis serves as the basis for developing principles of sustainable reclaimed water use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationWorld Environmental and Water Resources Congress 2011
Subtitle of host publicationBearing Knowledge for Sustainability - Proceedings of the 2011 World Environmental and Water Resources Congress
Pages3279-3294
Number of pages16
DOIs
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes
EventWorld Environmental and Water Resources Congress 2011: Bearing Knowledge for Sustainability - Palm Springs, CA, United States
Duration: May 22 2011May 26 2011

Other

OtherWorld Environmental and Water Resources Congress 2011: Bearing Knowledge for Sustainability
CountryUnited States
CityPalm Springs, CA
Period5/22/115/26/11

Keywords

  • Economic factors
  • Energy
  • Sustainable development
  • Texas
  • Water reclamation
  • Water supply

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)

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    Stillwell, A. S., Twomey, K. M., Webber, M. E., Osborne, R., Greene, D. M., & Pedersen, D. W. (2011). An integrated energy, carbon, and economic analysis of reclaimed water use in Austin, Texas. In World Environmental and Water Resources Congress 2011: Bearing Knowledge for Sustainability - Proceedings of the 2011 World Environmental and Water Resources Congress (pp. 3279-3294) https://doi.org/10.1061/41173(414)343