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MPC and Openlands Roundtable
Down the Drain, Up in Smoke: Exploring the Water-Energy Nexus in the Chicago Region

  • August 3, 2010, 12–2 pm
  • Metropolitan Planning Council Conference Center 140 S. Dearborn, Suite 1400 Chicago

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A Google search for "water-energy nexus" delivers 196,000 hits, and for good reason.  The U.S. Dept. of Energy estimates that 4 percent of the nation's energy use is attributable to drinking water and wastewater systems (pumping, treatment, and disposal).  At the local level, this percentage can be much, much higher.  Here in Illinois, water systems can account for as much as 75 percent of a municipal government's energy use, and 50 percent of a utility's budget.

Water use drives energy use, and energy use affects our impact on the global climate.  This is both a challenge and an opportunity.  If energy conservation and emissions reductions are monetized through a cap-and-trade system, it could provide revenue to make water conservation more financially attractive for public and private utilities.  

Please join the Metropolitan Planning Council and Openlands for “Down the Drain, Up in Smoke: Exploring the Water-Energy Nexus in the Chicago Region,” to learn how these inextricable connections operate and what solutions are at hand. The second event in our summer series, "Choosing our Water Future," this roundtable will explore:

  • The energy demands of water systems, and the water demands of energy production,
  • The impact of energy costs for water consumption on municipal budgets in northeastern Illinois,
  • The potential for monetization of water-energy savings, and
  • National and international best practices in utility planning and water-energy conservation.

The roundtable also will feature a special briefing on Veolia Water North America’s new Water Impact Index, the first indicator enabling a comprehensive assessment of the effect of human activity on water resources. The analysis, released July 19, also includes a carbon footprint for water services.


Frank Benichou, Executive Vice President and Chief Technical Officer, Veolia Water North America. Benichou will provide an overview of Veolia's new Water Impact Index.

Dr. Michael Webber, Associate Director of the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy in the Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas.  One of the nation's foremost energy policy leaders, Dr. Webber's work has been featured in notable media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, The New York TimesBBC, and Scientific American.  He is one of the originators of Austin's Pecan Street Project, a community-led effort to reinvent the city's electricity and water utilities through innovation and implementation of smart grids, smart meters, and smart appliances.

Mary Ann Dickinson, President, Alliance for Water Efficiency

Bill Abolt, Director, Chicago Office, Shaw Environmental & Infrastructure Group

Jeffrey Edstrom, Senior Water Resources Manager, Environmental Consulting & Technology, Inc.   

Online registration for this roundtable is now closed.

Thanks to Veolia Water North America for sponsoring this event.


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Metropolitan Planning Council 140 S. Dearborn St.
Suite 1400
Chicago, Ill. 60603
P 312 922 5616 F 312 922 5619
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