Water/Energy Nexus News:
- WRA Energy/Water Analyst Stacy Tellinghuisen co-author of a study released by the Union of Concerned Scientists on how power plants are stressing water resources around the country. Read the study
- WRA Expertise Aids in Telling Story of Southern Delivery System In the West water may flow uphill toward money, but as the Environment Report's Shawn Allee found out, it takes a lot of energy to move that water and a lot of greenhouse gasses will also be produced in the process. WRA's Stacy Tellinghuisen explains the repercussions of the proposed Southern Delivery System Project in this public radio program broadcast.
- WRA's Stacy Tellinghuisen is featured on a webcast explaining how demand forces are prompting hard questions in the Arkansas River Basin. Her report can be heard on the Department of Energy's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy website.
- Fort Collins Encouraged to Seek Other Options to Windy Gap Firming Project participation: WRA has joined with other groups to request that the City of Fort Collins look at all its alternatives before settling on participating in the Windy Gap Firming Project (WGFP). The WGFP is a proposed water project that hopes to squeeze even more yield out of the already very heavily diverted headwaters of the Colorado River in Grand County, Colorado. Viable options exist for Fort Collins to gain extra water at a fraction of the cost and environmental damage of the WGFP. Read the comments about alternatives provide to Fort Collins.
- Colorado River Project Draws on WRA's Knowledge When Writing Energy-Water Nexus Report: The River Report, a publication of the Water Education Foundation's Colorado River Project, consulted with WRA's Stacy Tellinghuisen on a lengthy story about the Energy-Water Nexus and its impact on the Colorado River Basin. The report delved into current issues, possible future solutions and the ever-tightening grip of human demands on the limited supply of Colorado River water. Read the full report here.
Water/Energy Nexus Overview
Dramatic population growth in the West highlights the unmistakable link between energy generation and water use. New coal plants divert and consume significant volumes of water for cooling. By comparison, wind and solar arrays use virtually no water. Thus, our choices for energy generation may create a large water footprint, as well as a large carbon footprint, preventing water from being put to other uses, including meeting environmental needs. WRA works to examine how different energy development scenarios affect water resources at the river basin- and state-wide level.
Climate Change and Water
Climate change is exacerbating the impacts of a growing population on western rivers. It creates new uncertainties for water planners whose water rights and storage facilities may generate less water, and at different times of the year, than in the past. In 2007, we partnered with state agencies, water utilities and other experts on the Colorado Water Adaptation Group, and co-authored recommendations to the state Climate Action Panel which, in turn, provided a suite of recommendations to state executive and legislative branches. Going forward we will advocate for policy changes to reflect the heightened importance of conservation and efficiency in the face of climate change.
A Powerful Thirst: Managing the Electricity Sector's Water Needs and the Risk of Drought
Drought has many impacts — it can reduce water supplies for urban areas, decrease crop yields in irrigated agriculture, and deplete stream ﬂows. Recent droughts have had unexpected — and unprecedented — impacts on the energy sector, impacting both electricity demands and power plants' ability to meet them. Preparing for drought is essential. Electric utilities and regulators can take critical steps to better prepare for and mitigate the impacts of future droughts. Read the report (.pdf).
The Water-Energy Nexus in Coloradan Communities
For Colorado communities, a lot of energy is tied-up in the water they use to provide provide public services and in the movement, management and treatment of water. Consequently, for every gallon of water saved, there is a corresponding energy savings as well.
WRA has produced a a fact sheet with best practices and case studies for water utilities and municipalities in Colorado interested in reducing the energy use and greehouse gas emissions through their water policies. Many of the best practices identified save both water and energy, and many of the best practices also have the potential to save money.
Report: Need for Energy and Climate Legislation Boils Down to Water
Western Resource Advocates and Environmental Defense Fund released the report, "Protecting the Lifeline of the West: How Climate and Energy Policies Can Safeguard Water" providing evidence for federal and state legislators why passing effective climate change policy is also good water policy for the West. Transitioning to cleaner energy sources, like solar and wind, can use far less water that other tradional power generation sources, yielding possible new source of water supply for the parched West. Click here to read the full report or its executive summary.
"Water Conservation = Energy Conservation"
Energy and water are inextricably linked. Increasingly, utilities are recognizing that water conservation can save water, energy, and greenhouse gas emissions. In a white paper 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, we outline opportunities for collaboration between state agencies, energy, and water utilities. Read the report here.
"A Sustainable Path: Meeting Future Water and Energy Demands in the Arkansas River Basin"
The waters of the Arkansas River Basin are already over-allocated and groundwater resources in the region's Oglalla/ High Plains Aquifer are in decline. Demand for water in the basin, however, continues to grow for the municipal and power generation sectors.
The Arkansas River Basin has substantial room for implementing water efficiency measures and has exceptional renewable energy resources that require little to no water to generate electricity. In order to meet the region's anticipated growth in water demand, the region's municipalities and electrical power providers will need to take measures that stretch the region's water resources further. This report outlines the necessary steps to meet new growth in municipal water and energy demands. Read the executive summary (.pdf ) or watch a powerpoint presentation (.pdf)
Pipelines and Power Plants: The Energy Needs of the West's Future Water Supplies
Energy and water are inextricably linked. As growing western cities seek to expand water supplies, they often must tap deeper groundwater aquifers, pump water over greater distances, and treat degraded water supplies. Water utilities' proposed development projects will, in most cases, use more energy than existing water supplies - further increasing greenhouse gas emissions and the potential impacts of climate change. If the proposed water projects are constructed as planned, over a thousand miles of water pipelines, at least a dozen pumping stations, and several new reservoirs would dot the western landscape.
Many utilities have substantial room to improve water conservation programs, delaying or eliminating the need to develop expensive, energy-intensive water projects. Certain conservation measures not only save water, but also save energy - translating into direct savings on customers' energy and water bills.
In this presentation, WRA analyzes the proposed water projects' energy demands, assesses the energy savings associated with different water conservation measures, and outlines a framework for making any new water projects "smart." Read the report (.pdf)
A Sustainable Path: Meeting Nevada's Water and Energy Demands
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. Read the report (.pdf)
The Last Straw: Water Use by Power Plants in the Arid West
Fossil-fueled power plants are widely recognized as major sources of air pollutants that damage human health and the environment. But they also have a significant impact on water, both as large users and polluters. Water has always been scarce in the West, resulting in fierce competition between various users, such as irrigators, industries and cities. Due to widespread drought conditions, water is becoming increasingly valuable and its use increasingly contentious. As a result, Western communities are now reassessing how best to use this vital resource.
The Last Straw, co-authored by WRA and Clean Air Task Force describes practical opportunities to reduce both water use and water quality impacts from power generation. It examines the close relationship between power generation and water, including water use effects on competing uses, water quality and power system reliability.
The report sets out an action agenda that covers fossil-fuel generation, renewable energy, and energy efficiency. If implemented, this agenda will minimize the impacts from water used for power generation, while ensuring power system reliability, conserving scarce water resources, and protecting rivers, streams and groundwater from unnecessary discharges. Read the report (pdf)