Burning Rivers: How Coal And Nuclear Are Sucking Up Our Fresh Water

The 20th century was characterized by the frenzied acquisition, storage, and use of oil. But many experts believe that the 21st century will be remembered as the century of water.

One of the most alarming emerging issues is the symbiotic — and often conflicting — relationship between electricity generation and water.

A new report called “Burning Our Rivers: The Water Footprint of Electricity” details this relationship, illustrating the massive amounts of water resources used for electricity generation — particularly from fossil fuels and nuclear.

An average U.S. household’s monthly energy use (weighted by cooling technology and fuel mix) requires 39,829 gallons of water, or five times more than the direct residential water use of that same household…. Electricity—as we generate it today—depends heavily on access to free water. The impact to our freshwater resources is an external cost of electrical production. What the market considers ‘least cost’ electricity is often the most water intensive.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, 53 percent of all the fresh surface water withdrawn for human consumption in 2005 was used for electricity generation.

via Burning Rivers: How Coal And Nuclear Are Sucking Up Our Fresh Water | ThinkProgress.

Categories: Electricity, Energy, Resources