Developing Water Resource Security in a Greenhouse Gas Constrained Context – A Case Study in California

Wednesday, 16 December 2015: 16:30
3001 (Moscone West)
Brian Tarroja1, Amir Aghakouchak2 and Scott Samuelsen1, (1)University of California Irvine, Irvine, CA, United States, (2)University of California Irvine, The Henry Samueli School of Engineering, Irvine, CA, United States
The onset of drought conditions in regions such as California due to shortfalls in precipitation has brought refreshed attention to the vulnerability of our water supply paradigm to changes in climate patterns. In the face of a changing climate which can exacerbate drought conditions in already dry areas, building resiliency into our water supply infrastructure requires some decoupling of water supply availability from climate behavior through conservation, efficiency, and alternative water supply measures such as desalination and water reuse. The installation of these measures requires varying degrees of direct energy inputs and/or impacts the energy usage of the water supply infrastructure (conveyance, treatment, distribution, wastewater treatment). These impacts have implications for greenhouse gas emissions from direct fuel usage or impacts on the emissions from the electric grid. At the scale that these measures may need to be deployed to secure water supply availability, especially under climate change impacted hydrology, they can potentially pose obstacles for meeting greenhouse gas emissions reduction and renewable utilization goals. Therefore, the portfolio of these measures must be such that detrimental impacts on greenhouse gas emissions are minimized. This study combines climate data with a water reservoir network model and an electric grid dispatch model for the water-energy system of California to evaluate 1) the different pathways and scale of alternative water resource measures needed to secure water supply availability and 2) the impacts of following these pathways on the ability to meet greenhouse gas and renewable utilization goals. It was discovered that depending on the water supply measure portfolio implemented, impacts on greenhouse gas emissions and renewable utilization can either be beneficial or detrimental, and optimizing the portfolio is more important under climate change conditions due to the scale of measures required.