Transporting, delivering, cleaning, and treating massive quantities of water requires a lot of energy. Yet it also provides many opportunities for recovering energy, deriving energy from renewable sources, and achieving energy use efficiencies. Renewable energy is a perfect fit for many municipal water and wastewater agencies. In this issue of Municipal Water Leader, we inspect how agencies are using solar power, hydropower, pumped storage, the generation of biogas from the codigestion of biosolids with wastewater, and resource recovery to improve their services and lower their energy use and reduce the waste they create. 

Hydropower and solar generation are two of the best-known renewable energy sources. In our cover story, we speak with Emily Morris of Emrgy about her company’s modular hydropower units, which can be easily installed in any outdoor water conveyance channel. Shawn Bailey of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the nation’s largest wholesaler, tells us about the 15 hydropower stations the agency uses to recover energy from the millions of gallons of water that surge through its system, as well as its solar installations. On the topic of solar power, we speak with Dan Howell of Eastern Municipal Water District about how the agency’s large solar installations provide it with energy flexibility. 

We also focus on two major hydropower generating and marketing agencies. Elliot Mainzer, the administrator of the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), tells us how the federal agency he runs provides dispatchable, carbon-free, round-the-clock power to municipal and private users across the Northwest. Like the BPA, Columbia Basin Hydropower is also addressing the challenge of providing a reliable backstop for fluctuating solar and wind generation, in this case through the construction of a giant pumped storage installation at Banks Lake. 

Finally, we look at two companies helping install new renewable energy facilities. Oceanus Power and Water has invented a new combined pumped storage and desalination facility that can be powered by solar energy. And AECOM is working on a wide variety of waste-to-energy installations. 

Across the water and wastewater industries, agencies are adapting their infrastructure in order to derive energy and resources from flowing water, sunlight, storage capacity, and waste. I hope that this issue of Municipal Water Leader will help you start thinking about how your agency can take advantage of these energy sources, too. 

Kris Polly is editor-in-chief of Municipal Water Leader magazine and president and CEO of Water Strategies LLC, a government relations firm he began in February 2009 for the purpose of representing and guiding water, power, and agricultural entities in their dealings with Congress, the Bureau of Reclamation, and other federal government agencies. He may be contacted at