Running Out of Water

Saving Energy Saves Water – Lots of It

The impending water crisis in the United States is not about water consumption it is about energy usage. No, not the energy it takes to pump the water to our homes and businesses. Not the water used to run factories or produce products. Not even the water used to develop coal and oil resources. The impending water crisis is the huge volume of water required to produce electricity. We will run out of water, creating thermoelectric power, long before we run out coal, oil, and natural gas.

Water is an integral element in the production of energy throughout the United State. In thermoelectric power generation, large volumes of water are used to convert water into steam that drive the turbines producing electricity. Eighty-nine percent of power generation in the US is thermoelectric.

Energy production accounts for thirty-nine percent of U.S. domestic water withdrawals. Energy production is the second largest user of water. Agriculture is first, using 40% of domestic water. The U.S. demand for energy is expected to increase by 50% by 2030. If new power plants continue to be built with evaporative cooling, consumption of water for electrical energy production could more than double.

Saving energy is one part of the solution. Producing energy with alternate energy sources another part of the solution. Moving away from thermoelectric power is important to maintaining our domestic water supply.

There is an excellent Congressional Report, “Energy Demands on Water Resources,” released in December of 2006. This fact-filled report truly opened my eyes to the interdependency between water and energy. Our growing demand for energy is much greater than our reliance on fossil fuels and even global warming. We will run out of water long before we run out of oil, coal, natural gas or nuclear energy.

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