Publications: Papers & Reports
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- Fracking Our Future: Measuring Water and Community Impacts from Hydraulic Fracturing (.pdf) (2012) Fracking Our Future is the first report to provide a comprehensive measure of water and community impacts from hydraulic fracturing. This timely report addresses the questions, "How much water is required for new production, such as through the process of hydraulic fracturing, and where will that water come from?" It provides specific recommendations to guide future development that decision makers can use in developing policies to make sure that water resources are properly managed along with oil and gas development.
- Oil Shale 2050: Data, Definitions, & What You Need to Know About Oil Shale in the West (.pdf) (2012) WRA has produced what is perhaps the definitive guide to oil shale in the West, covering potential effects on water, land and air quality, as well as economic repercussions.
- Fossil Foolishness: Utah's Pursuit of Tar Sands and Oil Shale (.pdf) (2010) In this report, WRA examines what it would mean for Utah should tar sands and oil shale potentially become sources of transportation fuel. Our research focuses on the likely impacts of commercial development of these deposits on Utah's water, air, and economy, as well as rural communities. The executive summary is available here (.pdf).
- An Assessment of the Energy Return on Investment (EROI) of Oil Shale (.pdf) (2010) The energy intensity of developing oil shale calls into question whether it is in reality a viable source of energy. A report prepared for WRA by Dr. Cutler Cleveland indicates oil shale may not produce any more energy than is consumed in the process to turn it into fuel. Combined with its high GHG emissions and the water-intensive nature of the extraction process, oil shale has has more drawbacks than benefits. Click here for the full report and here for the executive summary.
- Oil Shale Economics (.pdf) (2010)Is oil shale economically viable? Even the federal government doesn't know. A close review of economic data reveals that potential economic benefits of oil shale are are far different than what proponents claim.
- Water on the Rocks: Oil Shale Water Rights In Colorado (.pdf) (2009)This groundbreaking report is the first to catalogue the extensive holdings of water rights in western Colorado that could be used for oil shale development. While it is unknown if commercial-scale development will ever occur due to oil shale being such a problematic resource, these huge holdings of water rights area a serious concern for Colorado and other states in the Colorado River Basin. The link points to a special section of the WRA site devoted to the report.
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- Carbon Reduction Credit Program Working Paper (.pdf) (2014) This report presents a credit-based carbon dioxide emission rate reduction program for existing power plants. This program provides an easy-to-administer system for state policymakers and regulators to comply with federal guidelines under Section 111 of the Clean Air Act, currently being developed by the Environmental Protection Agency.
- A Toolkit for Community Clean Energy Programs (.pdf) (2013) The report provides practical methods for community organizations to advance energy efficiency and on-site renewable energy. Community organizations can select and use specific tools to prepare proposals for funding and to design and implement clean energy projects.
- Conservation Synergy: The Case for Integrating Water and Energy Efficiency Programs (.pdf) (2013) The nexus between water and energy has been understood for several years, yet only a handful of utilities have fully capitalized on this knowledge by combining their efficiency programs. Utilities that have collaborated - a few of which are profiled in the report - have overwhelmingly found such programs to be a good business decision. The benefits are manifold: higher participation rates, increased customer satisfaction, coordinated and complementary program design, and an improved reputation from working smarter - not harder. This report articulates the reasons for, and the pathways by which, utilities can achieve a conservation synergy.
- A Powerful Thirst: Managing the Electricity Sector's Water Needs and the Risk of Drought (.pdf) (2012) Preparing for drought is essential. "A Powerful Thirst" highlights the close ties between energy and water, and the impacts severe drought has had on the electricity sector in other arid regions, like Texas and Australia. The report also demonstrates the important strides utilities and regulators have made in the Interior West.
- Descending from the Pollution Plateau: Why Carbon Dioxide Emissions are Declining in the Mountain West and How to Keep it that Way (.pdf) (2012) This report shows that for the first time in 20 years, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the electric power sector have leveled off and have even begun to decline in the Mountain West.
- Solar Solutions: Incorporating Photovoltaics into Public Infrastructure (.pdf) (2011) Local governments can reap the rewards of using solar energy by incorporating creative solar power projects into public infrastructure. Buildings, airports, parks, shade structures, water supply systems, sound barriers, and even public art can feature photovoltaic (PV) solar systems that generate electricity. A WRA report, "Solar Solutions: Incorporating Photovoltaics into Public Infrastructure," details how local and regional governments can, and do, integrate sustainable energy generation into their public facilities.
- Western Grid 2050: Contrasting Futures, Contrasting Fortunes (.pdf) (2011) The western grid needs investment of at least $200 billion to improve performance and reliability. This report examines how the two options now confronting the West will play-out if the region chooses to invest in modernizing the grid in a move to a clean energy future, or if it continues to spend money on the grid in a business-as-usual manner. The report is a product of the Clean Energy Vision project of the Western Grid Group and Western Clean Energy Advocates. Western Resource Advocates participated in the process of creating this report but is not a primary author.
- Delivering Energy Savings: Innovative Energy Efficiency Strategies for Rural Electric Cooperatives and Small Public Power Utilities (.pdf) (2010) One out every four electricity customers in the nation gets their power from electrical co-ops or small electrical utilities. This report focuses on how these power suppliers can create energy efficiency programs that are effective and cost-efficient. By studying successful energy efficiency programs in other coops and small utilities, WRA passes along these valuable lessons learned. Conservation is a less expensive source of supply than building new power generation, and doesn't create additional problematic emisissions.
- Phoenix Green: Designing a Community Tree Planting Program for Phoenix, Arizona (.pdf) (2010) Shade trees aren't just an aesthetic landscaping choice they are also an effective way to reduce energy demands in the sunny Southwest. This report prescribes a tree planting program for Phoenix, AZ that can effectively reduce energy demand, increase quality of life, and serve as a template for other communities wishing to reduce their summer cooling energy loads.
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- Water Required for Energy Generation in Colorado is Declining (2014)
This report shows that new energy policies in Colorado are resulting in less water needed for the energy generation sector. In 2011, coal- and natural-gas-fired power plants in the State of Colorado consumed approximately 64,000 acre-feet (AF) of water. With state policies promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy, and retiring the state's most carbon- and water-intensive power plants, Colorado's energy sector likely will use even less water in the future.
- Filling the Gap: Meeting Future Urban and Domestic Water Needs in Southwestern New Mexico (2014)
The report shows that the proposed Gila diversion project, despite a committed federal subsidy under the Arizona Water Settlements Act (AWSA), would still burden ratepayers in SW New Mexico or state tax payers with $300 million needed to cover project costs, as well as additional annual operating costs of over $6 million. New analysis also found that the water supply 'gap' between cities' water supplies and new demands is only 35 acre feet and this amount can be entirely met with currently available water conservation practices and strategies.
- The Hardest Working River in the West: Common-Sense Solutions for a Reliable Water Future for the Colorado River Basin (2014)
Identifies conservation, reuse and other innovative solutions that could eliminate Western water shortages stemming from the over-taxed and stressed Colorado River. The report defines five cost-effective and clearly defined solutions that - if implemented at a larger scale across the basin - could meet the water needs of the West's business, agricultural and growing population through 2060.
- Conservation Synergy: The Case for Integrating Water and Energy Efficiency Programs (.pdf) (2013)
The nexus between water and energy has been understood for several years, yet only a handful of utilities have fully capitalized on this knowledge by combining their efficiency programs. Utilities that have collaborated - a few of which are profiled in the report - have overwhelmingly found such programs to be a good business decision. The benefits are manifold: higher participation rates, increased customer satisfaction, coordinated and complementary program design, and an improved reputation from working smarter - not harder. This report articulates the reasons for, and the pathways by which, utilities can achieve a conservation synergy.
- A Better Future for the Poudre River: Alternative to the Northern
Integrated Supply Project (.pdf) (2012)
The Better Future for the Poudre River Alternative ("Better Future Alternative" or "Better Future") is an alternative to the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP). NISP is a water supply project proposed by the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District(Northern Water) to provide 40,000 acre-feet (AF) of water annually to help meet the future water needs of 15 towns and water districts in northern Colorado.
- A Powerful Thirst: Managing the Electricity Sector's Water Needs and the Risk of Drought (.pdf) (2013)
Preparing for drought is essential. "A Powerful Thirst" highlights the close ties between energy and water, and the impacts severe drought has had on the electricity sector in other arid regions, like Texas and Australia. The report also demonstrates the important strides utilities and regulators have made in the Interior West.
- Estimated Water Demand and Conservation Potential of Domestic Wells in the Sierra Vista Subwatershed, Arizona (.pdf) (2012) The effect of domestic wells on aquifers and streams in Arizona is not well quantified. Because these wells do not require metering, estimates of their pumpage can vary (see Section 3). Nonetheless, the total demand from domestic wells is potentially large and important to water providers, cities and counties as they plan and develop strategies to meet future water needs, including water conservation programs.
- Fracking Our Future: Measuring Water and Community Impacts from Hydraulic Fracturing (.pdf) (2012)
Fracking Our Future is the first report to provide a comprehensive measure of water and community impacts from hydraulic fracturing. This timely report addresses the questions, "How much water is required for new production, such as through the process of hydraulic fracturing, and where will that water come from?" It provides specific recommendations to guide future development that decision makers can use in developing policies to make sure that water resources are properly managed along with oil and gas development.
- Filling the Gap: Joint Executive Summary of South Platte and Arkansas Basin Reports (.pdf) (2012)
- Filling the Gap: Meeting Future Urban Water Needs in the Arkansas Basin (.pdf) (2012)
This report is the second in a series outlining how Colorado can meet future water needs for 80% of the population without building large infrastructure projects or pipeline diversions.
- Economic and Financial Impacts of the Proposed Flaming Gorge Pipeline (.pdf) (2011)
A study of the economics behind the proposed Flaming Gorge pipeline, commissioned by WRA, reveals that it would produce the most expensive water ever seen in Colorado. But the costs of this project aren't only limited to paying at the tap. The region from where the water will be taken will suffer a multi-million dollar economic hit to its recreation economy, and the entire state of Colorado will bear added risks because of the project. The report finds Flaming Gorge water would cost up to $4,700 per acre-foot per year, compared to several other proposed projects expected to cost less than $700 per acre-foot per year. Also see The Flaming Gorge Pipeline: A Liability No One Can Afford (.pdf)
- Freshwater Use by U.S. Power Plants (.pdf) (2011)
This report of the Energy and Water in a Warming World Initiative was done in conjunction with the Union of Concerned Scientists. The report examines how power plants are straining water resources around the country.
- The Water-Energy Nexus in Coloradan Communities (.pdf) (2011)
As communities develop and implement their sustainability plans, they have opportunities to find new ways to connect their water and energy programs while meeting their triple (economic, environmental, and social) bottom line. This fact sheet outlines strategies to address energy use in the water sector and highlights some of the Colorado communities that are making the connection today.
- Filling the Gap:
Commonsense Solutions for Meeting Front Range Water Needs (.pdf) (2011)
This report offers a realistic and balanced water supply portfolio that meets the projected needs of the Colorado's Front Range communities while protecting waterways, economy, and quality of life. Employing widely accepted data, this report explores four water supply strategies - acceptable planned projects, water conservation, reuse, and voluntary water sharing with the agriculture sector. Importantly, our portfolio more than meets future needs without the large, costly, and environmentally damaging transbasin diversions that have been a hallmark of traditional water supply planning. The report's executive summary is available here (.pdf).
- Every Drop Counts: Valuing the Water Used to Generate Electricity (.pdf) (2011)
The enormous amounts of water used to generate electricity aren't being taken into account when utilities make plans to meet future generation needs. If this water cost to the rest of society is considered, clean renewable energy resource, that use little to no water, make far more sense. This report lays out the facts of energy's water costs.
- Arizona Water Meter (.pdf) (2010)
Arizona Water Meter is a thorough analysis of the water conservation activities of 15 communities in Arizona. The report looks at seven criteria to see how effective communities are in conserving scarce water resources. Through the data in this report, a picture emerges of what measures are effective in implementing community -based water conservation and why.
- Protecting the Lifeline of the West: How Climate and Energy Policies Can Safeguard Water (.pdf) (2010)
This report by Western Resource Advocates and Environmental Defense Fund illustrates why legislation is needed to curtail the risk unmitigated climate change poses to western water supplies and highlights the inextricable links between energy and water in the region. Climate and clean energy policy is also smart water policy. Transitioning away from forms of energy that emit health-harming greenhouse gases can also free-up the vast amounts of water formerly used for energy production. An executive summary of the report (.pdf) is also available.
- Water Conservation in Colorado: Analyzing Level 1, Current Conservation,and 1% per Year Scenarios (.pdf) (2009)
This technical report quantifies how existing and potential conservation strategies can significantly reduce Colorado’s future municipal water demands. By reducing future demands, water conservation programs will reduce and delay the onset of unmet water needs (locally known as the “Gap”), which in turn, will provide financial benefits to utilities and environmental benefits to Colorado’s rivers and streams. In a “1% per Year” conservation scenario, statewide water demands could be as much as 760,000 acre-feet lower in the year 2050 compared to some state agency estimates.
- Water Conservation = Energy Conservation (.pdf) (2009)
This white paper produced for the Colorado Water Conservation Board, WRA illustrates the links between energy and water in four Colorado cities, and estimates the energy and greenhouse gas savings generated by different water conservation measures. In addition, the report outlines opportunities for collaboration between state agencies and energy and water utilities.
- New House, New Paradigm: A Model for How to Plan, Build, and Live Water-smart (.pdf) (2009)
New House, New Paradigm provides an innovative take on how new housing development should proceed in the West: water conservation and efficiency must be built-in to the process of planning, building, and living in new communities. While all three aspects have been pursued independently, integrating conservation throughout these three phases is necessary to achieve the water savings that must occur as rapid growth persists across the western US. The report documents how this approach has succeeded in a handful of new communities.
- Water on the Rocks: Oil Shale Water Rights In Colorado (.pdf) (2009)
This groundbreaking report is the first to catalogue the extensive holdings of water rights in western Colorado that could be used for oil shale development. While it is unknown if commercial-scale development will ever occur due to oil shale being such a problematic resource, these huge holdings of water rights area a serious concern for Colorado and other states in the Colorado River Basin. The link points to a special section of the WRA site devoted to the report.
- Healthy Rivers, Healthy Communities:
A Balanced Proposal for the Cache la Poudre River in Colorado (.pdf) (2008)
Co-authored with the Save the Poudre Coalition, "Healthy Rivers" examines the impacts the proposed Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) would have on the Poudre River in Northern Colorado and how other alternative measures can meet the same goals set for the NISP project. The report also exposes flawed data and cost estimates provided by project proponents.
- A Sustainable Path: Meeting Nevada's Water and Energy Demands (.pdf) (2008)
The first of a series of three case studies, this report on water and energy in Nevada looks at the impact that growing water demands and water-hungry fossil energy production will have on Nevada's future water supply. This scenario is contrasted against a future where water and energy efficiency practices are implemented and renewable energy is used to meet new energy demands. While the unsustainability of Nevada's "business as usual" approach to meeting Nevada's energy and water demands is no surprise, the urgency necessary to shift away from this unsustainable path is. The report's executive summary is available here (.pdf).
- Smart Savings: Water Conservation Measures that Make Cents (.pdf) (2008) This report provides water utility managers and the public with information that can
be utilized to gauge the likely effectiveness of a variety of water conservation measures. Each conservation measure represented differs with respect to the number of participants, the water savings achieved, and the utility costs, but all reveal effective ways of reducing water demand.
- Front Range Water Meter: Water Conservation Ratings and Recommendations for 13 Colorado Communities (.pdf) (2007) This report evaluates conservation programs in 13 communities along Colorado’s Front Range, with a focus on quality, availability, and cost of conservation efforts, and making specific recommendations for each community.
- Hidden Oasis: Water Conservation and Efficiency in Las Vegas (.pdf) (2007) This report by Western Resource Advocates and the Pacific Institute that the Las Vegas Valley is sitting on an oasis of water and money savings. The report finds that up to 40% of water could be saved in some sectors through improvements to indoor and outdoor water efficiency.
- Urban Water on the Wasatch Front: Past, Present, and Future (.pdf) (2006)
Western Resource Advocates released a new report on December 6 outlining ways to meet increasing urban demands for water along Utah's Wasatch Front. The report - called Urban Water on the Wasatch Front: Past, Present, and Future - highlights the potential for meeting Utah's urban water supply through conservation and efficiency instead of by building expensive new dams and other water projects.
- Water in the Urban Southwest: An Updated Analysis of Water Use in Albuquerque, Las Vegas Valley and Tucson (.pdf) (2006) This report provides new information on water use in these fast growing municipalities and shows that business, schools and resorts are integrating conservation into their day-to-day practices, reducing their demand by millions of gallons each year.
- Water Rate Structures in New Mexico: How New Mexico Cities Compare Using this Important Water Use Efficiency Tool (.pdf) (2006)
Written by Western Resource Advocates and Professor Denise Fort of The University of New Mexico, this report takes a close look at the wide variety of water rate structures in New Mexico cities, ranging from those that promote efficient water use to those that actually encourage wasteful use.
- Facing Our Future: A Balanced Water Solution for Colorado (.pdf) (2005)
Western Resource Advocates, Trout Unlimited and the Colorado Environmental Coalition's report on how to satisfy municipal water demands along the Front Range for the next 25 years. This report offers a balanced approach for increasing the Front Range's water supply faster, with less harm to the environment, and much less controversy than traditional water development projects.
- Water Rate Structures in Utah: How Utah Cities Compare Using This Important Water Use Efficiency Tool (.pdf)(2005)
In semi-arid Utah, precious rivers, streams, and aquifers sustain cities and towns by feeding urban water supply systems. With a finite supply, Utah citizens, policymakers, and water utility managers must fulfill the dual role of ensuring water in customer taps and in Utah's rivers, as Utahns place a high value on both. Water rate structures play an essential role in communicating the value of water to water customers, thus promoting long-term efficient use.
- Water Rate Structures in Colorado: How Colorado Cities Compare in Using this
Important Water Use Efficiency Tool (.pdf) (2004)
Water rate structures are becoming an important tool for encouraging the most efficient use of our precious water in the arid West. This report offers a guide to the various pricing options that urban water managers and policymakers can use. It explains which options generate the strongest incentive for efficient water use and yield the fairest billing for consumers who place different levels of strain (demand) on water supply systems. It then compares water rate structures in communities along Colorado's Front Range and on Colorados Western Slope.
- Drought Report (.pdf) (2003)
Western Resource Advocates is an active member in the Colorado Sustainable Water Caucus, a coalition of groups from all over the state working toward a sustainable water future. This Drought Report prepared on behalf of the Caucus includes commonsense alternatives for meeting our future water needs.
- Gunnison Basin Water: No Panacea for the Front Range (.pdf) (2003)
- The Last Straw: Water Use by Power Plants in the Arid West (.pdf) (2003) The Last Straw, co-authored by Western Resource Advocates and the Clean Air Task Force, describes the relationship between power generation and water use in the West. It includes examples where impacts to water resources have affected power plant proposals, and, explores opportunities to reduce both water use and water quality impacts from power generation through a new focus on electricity demand management and renewable energy sources.
- SMART WATER: A Comparative Study of Urban Water Use Efficiency Across the Southwest (.pdf) (2003)
The Smart Water report provides an in-depth comparison on the efficiency of urban water use by over a dozen cities in the arid southwest. It describes how unchecked growth in urban water use threatens nearby river systems, such as Colorado's Gunnison Basin, and New Mexico's Middle Rio Grande. The report also summarizes current state-of-the-art practices in conserving water and in using existing water supplies more efficiently, highlighting areas where there is room for improvement.