Park City Sustainability Staff Evaluates City's Carbon Emissions From Water System

May 22, 2019

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At a recent Park City Council meeting, Sustainability staff presented the first of three in-depth reports on Park City Municipal’s carbon footprint. The City’s carbon emissions goal is to be net-zero by 2022, and the Sustainability team’s analysis shows total municipal emissions increased from 2017 to 2018. The first update focused on energy impacts from the town’s water system. 

Energy use related to Park City Municipal’s water treatment and distribution makes up 38% of its carbon footprint. That includes electricity used within city limits—what’s referred to as Scope 2 emissions—at Park City’s water treatment plants, storage sites and pumps. Most of that energy use stems from the transportation of water to higher elevations within the City through its pumping systems. These Scope 2 emissions decreased from 2017 to 2018, reflecting Park City Municipal’s participation in Rocky Mountain Power’s subscriber solar program.

The total energy use also includes electricity associated with the City from outside its boundaries, or Scope 3 emissions. In 2018, the City imported 1.19 billion gallons of water from the Rockport Reservoir and the Jordanelle Special Services District. The City shipped almost twice as much water from Rockport in 2018 compared to 2017 in order to test high-capacity water treatment at the Quinn’s Junction Water Treatment Plant. The City will rely more on Quinn’s Junction for water when the Spiro Water Treatment Plant goes offline for the construction of the 3Kings Water Treatment Facility in 2019. As a result, Scope 3 emissions increased in 2018.

Each water source has a different energy intensity associated with it. For example, water from Spiro is at a higher elevation than Quinn’s Junction, so it requires less energy to transport to customers. On the other hand, Quinn’s Junction receives untreated water from Rockport, so, in addition to the energy spent to import it, more energy is needed to make it safe to drink.

The City is attempting to minimize its water-related emissions through a few projects. The 3Kings plant is scheduled to come online in a few years as a net-zero facility, featuring onsite solar and microhydropower, which captures energy from water that flows downhill. Park City Environmental Analyst Darcy Glenn says the Water Department also has implemented a leak detection program that saves electricity—and money.

"They were able to find 300 gallons per minute of leaks in 2018, and the energy savings associated with that is equivalent to the electricity use of our ice arena in one year," Glenn said. "That’s an estimated savings of $157,000 annually."

The next two carbon footprint reports will address emissions associated with City buildings and lighting and transportation.