EPIC Study Assesses the Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Implications of Water Use

EPIC Study Assesses the Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Implications of Water Use

San Diego (October 17, 2018) – The Energy Policy Initiatives Center (EPIC) at the University of San Diego School of Law recently completed a first-of-a-kind assessment of the energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions related to water use at the city level in the San Diego region. The results of this study, which was funded by a grant from The San Diego Foundation, will help decision makers understand the GHG emissions effects of policies related to water use. EPIC assessed data and information from 24 water agencies, the San Diego County Water Authority and 10 of 19 jurisdictions in the region, comprising 65% of the population in the region.

Key findings of the study include:

  • The study shows a large variation in per capita water use among the cities assessed, from 73 gallons per capita per day (GPCD) to 200 GPCD, with an average of 124 GPCD in 2015.
  • Most Water Supplies were Imported – The State Water Project and the Colorado River provided an average of 74% during 2010-2013 and 92% during 2014-2015, reflecting precipitation changes.
  • There is a wide variation in local (within the region) energy use and local GHG emissions use among the cities related to topography, distribution and treatment systems. This variation is reduced when including upstream energy use and GHG emissions due to the large contribution of imported water to the supply.
  • Mandated water conservation in 2014-2015 reduced energy and GHG emissions; however, the reduction in water use was not proportional to the energy and GHG emissions reductions.
  • During the period of study 2010-2015, the limited availability of local water sources and dependence on imported water meant that the energy and GHG intensities increased even while water was conserved during drought years.
  • Due to a relatively low-GHG electricity grid especially in this region, the GHG emissions intensity was less affected by changes in water imports.
  • New local supplies, such as desalinated water and wastewater-to-potable water, which have or will become part of our supplies after 2015, promise to reduce the dependence on non-regional imported water but will change the energy use and GHG emissions impacts of water use.

The full report is available from the EPIC resources page.

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About EPIC

The Energy Policy Initiatives Center (EPIC) is a non-profit academic and research center of the University of San Diego School of Law that studies energy policy issues affecting the San Diego region and California. EPIC integrates research and analysis, law school study, and public education, and serves as a source of legal and policy expertise and information in the development of sustainable solutions that meet our future energy needs.

About the University of San Diego School of Law

The University of San Diego (USD) School of Law is recognized for the excellence of its faculty, depth of its curriculum, and strength of its clinical programs. Each year, USD educates approximately 800 Juris Doctor and graduate law students from throughout the United States and around the world. The law school is best known for its offerings in the areas of business and corporate law, constitutional law, intellectual property, international and comparative law, public interest and taxation.

USD School of Law is one of the 84 law schools elected to the Order of the Coif, a national honor society for law school graduates. The law school’s faculty is a strong group of outstanding scholars and teachers with national and international reputations and currently ranks 35th nationally and 6th on the West Coast among U.S. law faculties in scholarly impact and 24th nationally and 6th on the West Coast in all-time faculty downloads on the Social Sciences Research Network (SSRN). The school is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. Founded in 1954, the law school is part of the University of San Diego, a private, independent, Roman Catholic university chartered in 1949.

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