The Water–Energy Nexus in the American West
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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.
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Chapter 17: Water–Energy Integration in California

Frances Spivy-Weber


Frances Spivy-Weber 17.1. INTRODUCTION In 1913, William Mulholland opened the 233-mile Los Angeles Aqueduct from Owens Valley to Los Angeles, moving new water supplies to the city without using energy for pumping. He and engineers before and after his time understood the water–energy nexus and, where possible, incorporated this fact of physics into their designs and operations of water systems. Likewise, water has a long history as a source of power and, in the climate change debate, low-emission hydropower has been considered a critical part of the base in projections of future energy supplies. More recently, this link between water and energy gained new prominence as an important factor in California’s climate change strategy to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In 2005, the California Energy Commission (CEC) reported that water use, delivery and treatment accounted for approximately 19 percent of the electric energy, 32 percent of the non-generation natural gas and 4 percent of the diesel fuel used in the state. Industry and households were deemed the biggest waterrelated energy consumers, especially those using natural gas to heat water (California Energy Commission [CEC], 2005). The transport of water and its treatment has also proven to be highly energy intensive, reportedly accounting for approximately 5 percent of the 19 percent in the electric sector in 2005 and revised upward toward 8 percent of the 19 percent in 2010. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) funded studies that show groundwater pumping accounts for the largest electric energy use by the water...

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