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Water Res ; 127: 139-149, 2017 12 15.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-29035767


In recent years, cities in some water stressed regions have explored alternative water sources such as seawater desalination and potable water recycling in spite of concerns over increasing energy consumption. In this study, we evaluate the current and future life-cycle energy impacts of four alternative water supply strategies introduced during a decade-long drought in South East Queensland (SEQ), Australia. These strategies were: seawater desalination, indirect potable water recycling, network integration, and rainwater tanks. Our work highlights the energy burden of alternative water supply strategies which added approximately 24% life-cycle energy use to the existing supply system (with surface water sources) in SEQ even for a current post-drought low utilisation status. Over half of this additional life-cycle energy use was from the centralised alternative supply strategies. Rainwater tanks contributed an estimated 3% to regional water supply, but added over 10% life-cycle energy use to the existing system. In the future scenario analysis, we compare the life-cycle energy use between "Normal", "Dry", "High water demand" and "Design capacity" scenarios. In the "Normal" scenario, a long-term low utilisation of the desalination system and the water recycling system has greatly reduced the energy burden of these centralised strategies to only 13%. In contrast, higher utilisation in the unlikely "Dry" and "Design capacity" scenarios add 86% and 140% to life-cycle energy use of the existing system respectively. In the "High water demand" scenario, a 20% increase in per capita water use over 20 years "consumes" more energy than is used by the four alternative strategies in the "Normal" scenario. This research provides insight for developing more realistic long-term scenarios to evaluate and compare life-cycle energy impacts of drought-adaptation infrastructure and regional decentralised water sources. Scenario building for life-cycle assessments of water supply systems should consider i) climate variability and, therefore, infrastructure utilisation rate, ii) potential under-utilisation for both installed centralised and decentralised sources, and iii) the potential energy penalty for operating infrastructure well below its design capacity (e.g., the operational energy intensity of the desalination system is three times higher at low utilisation rates). This study illustrates that evaluating the life-cycle energy use and intensity of these type of supply sources without considering their realistic long-term operating scenario(s) can potentially distort and overemphasise their energy implications. To other water stressed regions, this work shows that managing long-term water demand is also important, in addition to acknowledging the energy-intensive nature of some alternative water sources.

Conservação de Recursos Energéticos , Abastecimento de Água , Cidades , Conservação dos Recursos Naturais , Água Potável , Secas , Queensland , Reciclagem , Água do Mar/química , Purificação da Água/métodos
Environ Sci Technol ; 50(24): 13184-13194, 2016 12 20.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-27993062


Nonpotable water reuse (NPR) is one option for conserving valuable freshwater resources. Decentralization can improve distribution system efficiency by locating treatment closer to the consumer; however, small treatment systems may have higher unit energy and greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions. This research explored the trade-off between residential NPR systems using a life-cycle approach to analyze the energy use and GHG emissions. Decentralized and centralized NPR options are compared to identify where decentralized systems achieve environmental advantages over centralized reuse alternatives, and vice versa, over a range of scales and spatial and demographic conditions. For high-elevation areas far from the centralized treatment plant, decentralized NPR could lower energy use by 29% and GHG emissions by 28%, but in low-elevation areas close to the centralized treatment plant, decentralized reuse could be higher by up to 85% (energy) and 49% (GHG emissions) for the scales assessed (20-2000 m3/day). Direct GHG emissions from the treatment processes were found to be highly uncertain and variable and were not included in the analysis. The framework presented can be used as a planning support tool to reveal the environmental impacts of integrating decentralized NPR with existing centralized wastewater infrastructure and can be adapted to evaluate different treatment technology scales for reuse.

Águas Residuárias , Água , Meio Ambiente , Efeito Estufa , Estágios do Ciclo de Vida