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BECC holds parallel meeting during the ANEAS Annual Convention

Posted on January 03, 2015

BECC holds parallel meeting during the ANEAS Annual Convention

BECC featured at ANEAS National Convention held in Merida.

Opportunities to improve the efficiency of water utilities, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the status of existing infrastructure, planning and financing, as well as institutional capacity building, were the key issues discussed during the Operational Efficiency Program for U.S.-Mexico Border Utilities panel hosted jointly by the Border Environment Cooperation Commission (BECC) and the National Association of Water and Wastewater Companies (Asociación Nacional de Empresas de Agua Potable y Saneamiento, ANEAS), as part of the organization's 2014 National Convention held on November 11 in Merida, Yucatan. The Convention's main theme was the relationship between water and energy, a topic that set the background for the concurrent discussion, which was highly relevant to the development of this national event. 

The discussion panel, attended by more than 50 utility officials, consultants and stakeholders, was divided into two sections. To introduce the main topic, the agenda included a presentation of the border program by BECC's General Manager, Maria Elena Giner, who described primarily the outcomes of the Energy Efficiency Audits conducted for 12 utilities, which were funded through USAID and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Border 2020 Program. 

The objective of this type of audits is to obtain a dual benefit, said the international official. First, the audits help reduce operating costs related to power usage and secondly, they serve as a climate change mitigation and adaptation measure since, according to 2025 projected data, Mexico's northern border states will represent 31% of the total amount of national greenhouse gas emissions in an area that houses only about 19% of the country's population. 

In this regard, she said, BECC provides technical assistance to help local utilities identify actions to reduce energy costs, improve the efficiency of their electromechanical equipment, and directly impact the operating efficiency of existing facilities. Subsequently, proposed actions are prioritized for implementation, based on the needs of each of the utilities that receive this assistance.

She highlighted that the work developed by BECC and the North American Development Bank during the last 20 years through EPA's Border Environmental Infrastructure Program has helped CONAGUA and border state and local governments achieve water, wastewater, and treatment coverage rates well above the national averages, with wastewater flows of 20 m3/second that previously went untreated.

The BECC General Manager highlighted the case of the Colorado River Aqueduct in Tijuana, where the audit identified that an investment of $11 million dollars would generate potential annual savings of $2.5 million dollars in energy costs which was among the most salient recommendations resulting from the energy audits performed at the different border water utilities. Similarly, for the Ciudad Victoria Aqueduct, the audit identified that a $1 million dollar investment to replace the pumps and retrofit the existing infrastructure would achieve a potential savings of 44% in energy usage. In both cases, the return on investment period would be less than five years. 

After Giner's conference, a discussion panel was held with specialists Sergio Naranjo and Hector Alvarez from CONAGUA, Charles Delfieux from the World Bank, and Jaime Felipe Cano, Director General of the Tamaulipas State Water Commission, who made specific comments about four key issues: 

1. The status of utilities with regards to strategies for enhancing operations and conserving water/energy in the context of climate change mitigation and adaptation measures. 
2. The general conditions of electromechanical and hydraulic systems, available technical and cost-related data, and maintenance programs. 
3. Planning and funding of electromechanical and hydraulic systems improvements with high potential to yield efficiency increases and cost savings. 
4. Institutional capacity building for following up conservation and facility maintenance actions. 

Topics discussed included institutional capacity building using planning tools such as the audits and ongoing training; implementing this type of investments to enhance the efficiency of electromechanical equipment with very low return-on-investment periods (on average one to five years); establishing Energy Management and Preventive Maintenance departments to generate savings; reaching out to agencies that make available grants or programs for infrastructure and operation enhancements; documenting best practices, and seeking the continuity of operational staff. All these actions will collectively will result in the strengthening of the utilities. 




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