Comparison of water-energy trajectories of two major regions experiencing water shortage.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Water shortage, increased demand and rising energy costs are major challenges for the water sector worldwide. Here we use a comparative case study to explore the long-term changes in the system-wide water and associated energy use in two different regions that encountered water shortage. In Australia, South East Queensland (SEQ) encountered a drought from 2001 to 2009, while Perth has experienced a decline in rainfall since the 1970s. This novel longitudinal study quantifies and compares the urban water consumption and the energy use of the water supply systems in SEQ and Perth during the period 2002 to 2014. Unlike hypothetical and long-term scenario studies, this comparative study quantifies actual changes in regional water consumption and associated energy, and explores the lessons learned from the two regions. In 2002, Perth had a similar per capita water consumption rate to SEQ and 48% higher per capita energy use in the water supply system. From 2002 to 2014, a strong effort of water conservation can be seen in SEQ during the drought, while Perth has been increasingly relying on seawater desalination. By 2014, even though the drought in SEQ had ended and the drying climate in Perth was continuing, the per capita water consumption in SEQ (266 L/p/d) was still 28% lower than that of Perth (368 L/p/d), while the per capita energy use in Perth (247 kWh/p/yr) had increased to almost five times that of SEQ (53 kWh/p/yr). This comparative study shows that within one decade, major changes in water and associated energy use occurred in regions that were similar historically. The very different "water-energy" trajectories in the two regions arose partly due to the type of water management options implemented, particularly the different emphasis on supply versus demand side management. This study also highlights the significant energy saving benefit of water conservation strategies (i.e. in SEQ, the energy saving was sufficient to offset the total energy use for seawater desalination and water recycling during the period.). The water-energy trajectory diagram provides a new way to illustrate and compare longitudinal water consumption and associated energy use within and between cities.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Lam, KL; Lant, PA; O'Brien, KR; Kenway, SJ

Published Date

  • October 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 181 /

Start / End Page

  • 403 - 412

PubMed ID

  • 27395015

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1095-8630

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0301-4797

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.jenvman.2016.06.068


  • eng