The Sonoma County Water Agency has a duty to secure water for future generations of Sonoma County residents.
The potential impacts of climate change will make it more difficult to meet that mission. The more the Water Agency can do to mitigate the impact of climate change, the more secure the source of water will be for the future.
Being one of the largest energy users in Sonoma County, in 2006, the Water Agency committed to the goal of operating a carbon free water system by 2015. To achieve this goal, the Water Agency is actively working to diversify its energy portfolio and reduce its energy and fuel needs through efficiency and renewable energy production. Through this effort, the Water Agency is helping to pioneer new technologies that have been carefully evaluated for economic viability.
Achievement of Carbon Free Water
In 2015, the Water Agency has contracted to procure 100% of its electricity needs through renewable and carbon free resources, thus achieving a carbon neutral electricity supply to power its system. The Water Agency has three solar photovoltaic projects totaling almost 2 MW which account for 6% of its total electricity needs. The Water Agency procures local geothermal energy from Sonoma Clean Power's EverGreen program for 5% of its electricity needs. The remainder of its energy needs are met through PWRPA carbon free sources of the Sonoma County Landfill Gas to Energy project, Lake Sonoma Warm Springs Dam hydropower, and other non-local hydropower sources in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The landfill gas accounts for 55% of Water Agency electricity needs, Warm Springs Dam accounts for 27%, and other hydropower accounts for 7%. Of the 100% renewable and carbon free sources the Water Agency utilizes, 93% are from sources within Sonoma County.
The Water Agency was recently featured in the Union of Concerned Scientists' report "Clean Energy Opportunities in California's Water Sector". “This report finds that water and wastewater utilities are in a unique position to help California adapt to severe droughts and to achieve the state’s climate goals,” said Dr. Juliet Christian-Smith, a climate scientist in the California office of the Union of Concerned Scientists and co-author of the report. “The Sonoma County Water Agency is showing that making investments in clean, renewable sources of energy benefits customers and the environment by supplying carbon-free water.” The report is available at www.ucsusa.org/CAwaterenergy
Sonoma County Water Agency Carbon Free Water by 2015 website
Three Water Agencies in California and Washington Pursue Greenhouse Gas Free Water webinar archive