Leading Innovation Through
Charles M. Murray
Chair, Board of Directors
Robert C. Renner, PE, BCEE
Chief Executive Officer
WATER AND ENERGY are critical and mutually dependent resources. There are about 52,000
drinking water utilities and about 15,000 wastewater utilities in the United States, making this
a large and diverse sector. Around 2–4% of the nation’s electricity is used by these utilities.
Likewise, approximately 27% of U.S. nonagricultural water is consumed by the energy sector.
Between 1996 and 2011, energy use in public water supply and treatment rose 39%, while
energy use in wastewater treatment rose 74%.
The Water Research Foundation (WRF) has long recognized the important intersection
between water and energy and the need for more research in this area. In 2012, recommendations from WRF’s Energy Technical Advisory Committee ( TAC) led to the development of a WRF
research Focus Area titled, “Developing Tools and Strategies for Improved Water Utility Energy Efficiency and Integrated Water-Energy
Planning.” Seven research projects have been funded through this energy focus area, resulting in actionable recommendations
to help water and wastewater utilities reduce energy consumption, increase opportunities to use renewable energy, and identify
opportunities for water energy planning.
WRF has also promoted collaboration with other water organizations on the water-energy nexus. Water policy and research
priorities were the focus of a September 7 meeting of water industry leaders with U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. Led by WRF,
seven organizations1 representing utilities that provide service to 90% of the population in the United States served by drinking
water, wastewater, resource recovery, reuse, and stormwater systems, discussed challenges and opportunities in the water-energy
nexus with the Secretary as well as explored suggestions for collaboration with the Department of Energy (DOE).
The group promotes the view that research and collaboration between the energy and water sectors can result in reliable, resilient,
and sustainable systems that will stimulate energy efficiency and water conservation to benefit public health, the economy, and
the environment. DOE asked the organizations to provide further detail on the efforts that have shown promise in the identified
challenges and opportunities, with suggestions on the strongest opportunities for further support. To that end, WRF led the effort
to draft a white paper, which was submitted to the DOE in October.
The water sector has been engaged with DOE in addressing water-energy nexus issues through research, practice, and collaboration for decades and is positioned to make even greater significant advancements through increased collaboration with DOE and
other stakeholders. We look forward to addressing the water-energy nexus issues together.
1Meeting participants included the Water Research Foundation, Water Environment & Reuse Foundation, Water Environment Federation, American Water Works Association, National Association
of Clean Water Agencies, Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, and National Association of Water Companies.