Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Energy Science and Engineering

Major Professor

Brennan T. Smith

Committee Members

Budhhendra L. Bhaduri, Joanne Logan, Michael L. Simpson


This research reduces the knowledge gap around how the water-energy nexus can be applied at the urban level, clarifying how a city water distribution system might be used to offset community energy consumption. The created methodology includes 3 research objectives. First, model scenarios are developed to determine opportunities for energy storage in urban water systems. Then, how increased energy storage capacity impacts water system resiliency is examined. Finally, the financial implications of scenarios are calculated.A closed-loop water system model (EPANET2) simulates Cleveland, Tennessee’s water distribution system, resolved to the neighborhood scale. Sectoral aggregated hourly energy use data provides a comparison baseline for storage scenarios. Storage is injected into the water model in concentrated and distributed configurations to understand which is more effective at shaving peak energy demands, and which is more effective at increasing water system resiliency. Configurations are assigned costs, to understand how feasible it is to increase energy storage in water systems over local utility planning and financing horizons.Key findings include: (1) concentrated water storage configurations can generate significantly more electricity than distributed storage configurations, because they can be designed primarily for energy generation, not primarily to meet demand and to maintain pressure; (2) distributed water storage configurations can be more resilient to the chronic stress of population growth, because increasing storage throughout the water system is more effective at maintaining water system pressures and meeting increasing demand; and (3) neither concentrated nor distributed water storage configurations are cost effective within local utility planning and financing horizons, because the payback periods far exceed that 20-year timeframe.This research fills a knowledge gap around the scale at which small pumped hydro-generation systems can be effective at reducing community electrical demands. It clarifies the impacts of various storage configurations on water system resiliency, and how fiscally solvent using the water system to store energy might be. It concludes that small-scale hydro in an urban water system is viable at the micro-scale on a case by case basis, but not fiscally feasible as a tool to shave peak community energy demands.

Orcid ID

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