The water-energy nexus refers to the interconnections between water and energy production. Most of Ontario’s power comes from Hydroelectric generation, most notably Niagara Falls.
But water is also used for energy production – whether nuclear, coal or gas generation plants. Energy is required to treat the water that flows to our homes and also to treat the wastewater that we discard. A 2010 POLIS study showed that pumping and treating water and wastewater consumes enough energy to light every home in the province. As well, the energy required to heat water for our showers accounts for one-quarter of household energy consumption.
Both fossil fuels and clean water are finite resources that are being depleted, and municipalities are moving towards pricing water and energy to encourage conservation and recover costs. The cost of water in Guelph — sourced from the Guelph-Amabel Aquifer — is now on par with water costs in California. We are approaching the point where the cheapest way to save electricity will be via water conservation.
How Local Impact Design can help…
- Specification of household water efficiency measures, including meeting Guelph’s own Blue Built Home Water Efficiency Standard. Building to Blue Built Home standard could save up to 54 percent of household water use, plus be eligible for a one-time cash rebate of up to $2,460.
- Design of rainwater collection systems (underground tanks), together with treatment to enable reuse for toilet flushing and potentially bathing. This reduces the impact on stormwater systems and rivers as well as the risk of stormwater flooding. Installing an approved rainwater harvesting system is eligible for a $2,000 rebate from the City of Guelph’s Rainwater Harvesting System Rebate Program.
- Design & installation of greywater systems that collect and treat wastewater from showers, baths and wash basins for reuse in flushing toilets, watering gardens and even for use in washing machines. Greywater recycling systems can be installed in new or existing buildings and have the potential to meet a significant proportion of domestic demand for water, plus is eligible for a $1,000 rebate from the City of Guelph’s Greywater Reuse Pilot Program.
- Design of natural, non-chemical treatment processes to treat grey and black water, including sand filtration and reed beds to provide further protection to the environment.