Clean water is essential for life all on earth. The pumping, distribution, heating, and treatment of our water and wastewater generates GHG emissions. According to the Energy Information Administration, in Indiana the energy to heat our water is most often generated from burning coal. Therefore, it is important that we reduce unnecessary water consumption in our homes and businesses. Lifestyle adjustments like getting a low-flow showerhead and curtailing water use by taking shorter showers can reduce emissions associated with water use. While a relatively small portion of Carmel’s overall emissions come from water and wastewater use and treatment (See Chapter 2), there are numerous ways to easily reduce emissions from home and business use while also saving money. For example, according to the EPA, if just one out of 10 households in Indiana replaced its older, inefficient toilets with WaterSense labeled models, it would save U.S. residents 2.5 billion gallons of water and $15 million in water bills annually.
Carmel Utilities already promotes several initiatives and programs that conserve water and reduce emissions. For instance, the City of Carmel Water and Sewer Utility currently uses anaerobic digestors to break down organic materials and uses 50 to 60 percent of the biogas generated from the process to heat sludge during wastewater treatment and for other minor uses. In 2021, Carmel Utilities began using two solar arrays with almost 3,000 solar panels to power the City’s water plant and save about $1.8 million in future energy costs. The City also has a stormwater fee for all properties in Carmel, which creates a dedicated source of funding for projects related to improve stormwater infrastructure. The Parks and Recreation Department has a reclaimed water system that collects stormwater, greywater, and water from splash pads at its facilities through bioswales. There are also several rain gardens on municipal properties that help retain rainwater to prevent runoff.
The strategies included here build on those existing measures to further reduce the magnitude and impact of water use, stormwater control, and wastewater treatment. Additionally, these measures have a large number of co-benefits associated with them and will generally improve the quality of life and reduce living expenses in the community.