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 11: Energy Requirements for Water Supply in Utah

Sarah G. Larsen and Steven J. Burian

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


Sara G. Larsen and Steven J. Burian 11.1. INTRODUCTION Utah is a stark example of a geography that lies at the confluence of three driving forces that characterize the water–energy nexus: a rapidly growing population, water scarcity and growing energy consumption. While Utah is no stranger to water-related conflicts, the above stressors – combined with intermittent drought and changes to local hydrology predicted by climate science – could aggravate available water supplies even further, to the point of shortage and significant environmental losses. All over the West, water and utility managers are challenged with finding new ways to provide energy and water where it is needed, at the right time, and for different uses. The lack (or shortage) of water has already become a limiting factor in energy development, such that many plans for new power plants have experienced delays or been shelved indefinitely (US Department of Energy/National Energy Technology Laboratory, 2008). The alternate relationship – that of energy limiting the availability of water – is also constrained, but has not received as much scrutiny. Water-related services can be highly energy efficient or they can be energy intensive. To understand how much energy is consumed by a water system, it is helpful to define different stages, or segments, of its life cycle. Figure 11.1 is a conceptual diagram of the breakdown of a commonly occurring water supply and consumption cycle. It illustrates how water is first gathered from a source, is conveyed to a point of treatment and then distributed to a point...

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