Understanding the Water-Energy Nexus

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Water has always been linked to energy but recently the relationship between water and energy is emerging as a topic of importance.  As water constraints increase, energy production becomes more vulnerable and concerns are raised regarding the effect energy operations have on availability and quality of water.
Consider the following:
•Energy is required to treat wastewater and transport drinking water;
•Water is required to make electricity and produce transportation fuels;
•Energy and water are required to grow food;
•An increasing portion of certain crops is being used for fuel instead of food; and
•Water quality can be adversely impacted by food and energy production.
The complex and mutually dependent relationship between water and energy is known as the water
energy nexus. Simply defined; a large amount of water is required to produce energy, and energy is required
for water treatment and transportation.
•Nearly half of all water withdrawals in the United States are used for thermoelectric power plant cooling.
•Moving and treating water accounts for 19 percent of California’s electricity usage.
•Total electricity consumption of the water and wastewater sectors will grow 33% in the next 20 years.
•Energy consumption in most water systems worldwide could be reduced by at least 25 percent through cost effective efficiency actions.
Average annual global renewable water resources declined 40 percent per person from 1970 to 2000, due to growing world population.
Balancing these competing needs and increasingly scarce resources will require behavior modification, development of innovative
technology, and adoption of supporting policy by individuals, businesses, and governments. Ensuring sustainability of supply will
only be possible by making efficient use a priority through awareness and understanding of the water energy nexus.
To learn more about the water energy nexus or participate in relevant discussions surrounding the topic of water, be sure to check out the valuable information in the sources at the end of this publication and consider attending 20th Annual Water Conference sponsored by Southern California Edison.

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