The continued security and economic health of the United States depends on a sustainable supply of both energy and water. These two critical natural resources are closely linked - the production of energy requires large volumes of water while the treatment and distribution of water is equally dependent upon readily available, low-cost energy. In 2000, irrigated agriculture and thermoelectric generation withdrawals of fresh water were approximately equal. Electricity production requires about 136,000 million gallons of freshwater per day, accounting for over 40% of all daily freshwater withdrawals in the nation. Surprisingly, in many regions of the country we indirectly use as much water turning on the lights and running electric appliances each day in their homes as we use directly in taking showers and watering lawns.
Analyses of water use and availability indicate that to meet our future water and energy demands to support continued economic development will require improved utilization and management of both energy and water resources. Emerging concerns include:
The nation's ability to meet the increasing demand for affordable water and energy is being seriously challenged by these emerging issues. In recent legislation in the Omnibus Spending Bill of 2005 authorized DOE:
- Projections that our growing population and economy will require an additional 393,000 MW of new generating capacity - about one thousand new 400 MW plants - by the year 2020,
- An increasing population, requiring both more food and energy, pushing the nation's two largest water users into competition for limited water resources, and
- Potential environmental and ecological restrictions on the use of water for power generation - removal of hydroelectric dams, restrictions on cooling water withdrawals, and cooling water use - to protect aquatic species and habitat.
"The conferees provide $500,000 for a Report to Congress on the interdependency of energy and water focusing on the threat to national energy production resulting from limited water supplies, utilizing where possible the multi-laboratory Energy-Water Nexus Committee."
The multi-laboratory Energy-Water Nexus Committee consists of twelve DOE national laboratories that have joined in an effort to raise awareness within DOE and other agencies and associations of the emerging issues facing future energy production from growing limitations on water resource availability. The Committee was selected by DOE to develop the requested Report to Congress, with a team from Los Alamos National Laboratory, the National Energy Technology Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories leading the information collection and report development efforts.
Report To Congress Overview and Schedule
The purpose of the Energy Water Report to Congress is to provide a basic understanding of the general concerns and scope of the interdependency of energy and water from both a regional and national perspective. The Report to Congress will:
The Report to Congress effort started in July 2005. A draft Report will be available in December 2005, with the final Report submitted by February 2006. The technical leads for the national laboratories leading the development of the Energy Water Report to Congress include:
- Identify at the regional and national levels the major issues and concerns of energy and water interdependencies. A major challenge in the U.S. is the differences by region in population growth, economic growth, and water resource limitations. The report will identify expected future energy and water needs and concerns by region and identify possible or emerging economic and environmental trends.
- Conduct a general analysis of water demand trends by region and sector that could compete with the energy sector for limited water resources.
- Identification of national needs to address energy and water interdependencies; and
- Suggest regional and national directions in research, technology improvement, resource management, and policy needs to reduce the threat of water resource limitations on future energy production.
Los Alamos National Laboratory
National Energy Technology Laboratory
Sandia National Laboratories