The Water–Energy Nexus in the American West

The Water–Energy Nexus in the American West

Edited by Douglas S. Kenney and Robert Wilkinson

The nexus between water and energy raises a set of public policy questions that go far beyond water and energy. Economic vitality and management of scarce and precious resources are at stake. This book contributes to the body of knowledge and understanding regarding water, energy, and the links between the two in the American West and beyond.

Chapter 9: Energy-Intensive Water Supplies

Stacy Tellinghuisen

Subjects: environment, climate change, energy policy and regulation, environmental geography, environmental law, water, law - academic, environmental law


Stacy Tellinghuisen INTRODUCTION Over the last decade, western cities have experienced some of the fastest population growth in the nation. For most cities, the cheapest, most readily available water supplies have already been tapped, and water utilities have increasingly looked to develop projects that require more energy, like surface supplies pumped over longer distances, groundwater pumped from greater depths and lower quality water that requires more intensive water treatment. Indeed, the energy intensity of many proposed new water supply projects in the Interior West rivals the energy intensity of the large trans-basin water projects in California, which are notorious for their high energy demands. In the following pages, we profile new water supply projects that are in the permitting, construction or operation processes. Figure 9.1 illustrates both proposed and existing water supply projects in the Interior West. Figure 9.2 compares the energy intensity of existing water supplies with proposed projects. Many of these projects demonstrate broader trends in new water supply development. In every case, energy is one of many elements that should be used to evaluate the benefits, impact or merits of a proposed new supply project. 9.2. 9.2.1. PROPOSED WATER SUPPLY PROJECTS Arizona: Yuma Desalting Plant Originally designed to address the high salinity of agricultural return flows, the Yuma Desalting Plant (YDP) has operated for only limited periods of time. The YDP treats saline return flows from the WelltonMohawk Irrigation and Drainage District, located in southwestern Arizona. Once treated, the water can meet a portion of the United...

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