The first report -"Wisconsin's Strategy for Reducing Global Warming" - was the product of a vast participation process involving folks from the Public Service Commission, the DNR, environmental groups, utility providers, transportation and building professionals, university folks, and more. According to this report, each 1% reduction in water use by municipal water utility customers in Wisconsin results in the prevention of 16,800 tons of CO2 into our air. This report provides numerous recommendations, including that municipalities and utility providers offer education and outreach materials on water efficient technologies and practices to consumers.
The second report - "The Carbon Footprint of Water" - states that "water management strategies can achieve energy savings comparable to traditional energy conservation measures at almost half the cost". The study concludes that the most cost effective measure that can be taken to reduce energy use and GHG emissions is water conservation.
This all is good news for the city of Oshkosh. The residents have loudly voiced their support for sustainable practices. The city signed an agreement promising to reduce their GHG emissions (Mayor's Climate Protection Agreement). Municipal language already says that the city will do this ( comprehensive plan - The city will "Educate and involve public regarding water conservation practices - Utility and Community Facilities Goals, Objectives, and Actions Goal E pg 161). And of course, everyone desires efforts that entail minimal initial cost with substantial gains and the potential to recover those costs over an extended period of time.
As we move forward and place a real and urgent priority on sustainability, I am eager to see the leadership that our city staff and council provides on this. Oshkosh on the water should include an element of stewardship of water, and through such efforts we can also reduce energy use and costs. In the cloudy land of municipal government, few things are so clear of a win-win.