IWA Publishing

Water efficiency as a means of reducing carbon emissions in Northern Ireland (NI) water

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The water and sewerage sectors' combined emissions account for just over 1% of total UK emissions, while household water heating accounts for a further 5%. Energy use, particularly electricity, is the largest source of emissions in the sector. Water efficiency measures should therefore result in reduced emissions from a lower demand for water and wastewater treatment and pumping, as well as from decreased domestic water heating. Northern Ireland Water (NI Water) is actively pursuing measures to reduce its carbon footprint. This paper investigated the carbon impacts of implementing a household water efficiency programme in Northern Ireland. Assuming water savings of 59.6 L/prop/day and 15% uptake among households, carbon savings of 0.6% of NI Water's current net operational emissions are achievable from reduced treatment and pumping. Adding the carbon savings from reduced household water heating gives savings equivalent to 6.2% of current net operational emissions. Cost savings to NI Water are estimated as £300,000 per year. The cost of the water efficiency devices is approximately £1.6 million, but may be higher depending on the number of devices distributed relative to the number installed. This paper has shown clear carbon benefits to water efficiency, but further research is needed to examine social and cost impacts.

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