The nation’s water and energy resources are inextricably entwined. Significant energy is used by water infrastructure to pump, treat, transport, heat, cool, and recycle water. At the same time, a significant amount of water is also required to produce electricity.
Growing population is increasing the demand for water and the energy needed to deliver and treat it. Meanwhile, climate change threatens to adversely affect existing water resources, demanding new methods of mitigation and adaptation. Without advances in technology, water-related energy use is likely to grow significantly. This growth will be caused by increasing water conveyance and treatment requirements.
With the assistance of its Water-Energy Advisory Committee, the Alliance is exploring opportunities for optimizing the state’s vital water and energy resources on a fully integrated basis and is documenting strategies for water agencies to reduce their own energy use and supply more sustainable water. As part this effort the Alliance issued its study of “The Role of Recycled Water in Energy Efficiency and Greenhouse Gas Reduction” in May 2008. That study concluded that substantial water, energy and environmental benefits were achievable by accelerating development and use of recycled water in Southern California.
To ensure a truly sustainable future for California, we must better understand the water-energy nexus and implement mutually beneficial strategies to improve the sustainable development and use of water and energy resources.