The Water-Energy Connection
In the United States, generating power consumes 3 percent of our nation's water annually and 13 percent of the energy produced in this country each year is used to treat, transport and heat our water. Conserving water saves energy, and vice versa. The water-energy connection is complex, but it provides an excellent opportunity to get students thinking about the interrelatedness of ecological and environmental concerns.
Articles and Reports
- Alternative Energy Projects Stumble on a Need for Water, an article published in The New York Times in September 2009, highights the link between renewable energy production and water consumption.
- California's Water-Energy Relationship, published in 2005 by the California Energy Commission, reports on the relationship between water and energy.
- The Carbon Footprint of Water, published by River Network in 2009, explores the energy and carbon emissions embedded in the nation's water supplies.
- Energy Demands on Water Resources, a report to Congress drafted by the U.S. Department of Energy in 2006, explores the interdependence between energy and water.
- Energy Down the Drain: The Hidden Costs of California's Water Supply, published in 2004 by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Pacific Institute, looks at the energy consumption of all stages of the water treatment and distrubution processes.
- Energy Efficient Light Bulbs Save Water, Too explains the water consumption involved with electricity production.
- Making the Water-Energy Connection is a fact sheet developed by the Center for ReSource Conservation in Boulder, Colorado. Although some of the tips and statistics refer specifically to Colorado, the fact sheet provides excellent information on ways to reduce water and energy consumption in households across the U.S.
- Seven Ways to Save Energy by Saving Water offers a few practical ideas on how to conserve water to conserve energy.
- Thirsty Energy: Water and Energy in the 21st Century, published by the World Economic Forum, outlines the many links between water, energy and climate change, with a particular focus on the water requirements of energy production.
- Water Efficiency Saves Energy, a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council, explores the water-energy connection through the topic of greenhouse gas emissions.
- Conserving Water Conserves Energy, a video public service announcement which earned Honorable Mention in the U.S. EPA's 2009 Water Quality Video Contest, illustrates the connection between water and energy consumption.
- Energy Conservation for Kids - Water Usage Tips is a short video with tips for saving water and energy around the house.
- The U.S. Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources hearing on the Energy and Water Integration Act of 2009 features six experts on the water-energy connection.
- Water and Energy: A Powerful Connection, a segment of the public television series California's Water, explores the way energy is used in the treatment and transportation of water, and how some water utilities are looking to alternative sources of energy for these processes. View the segment
- The Water for Energy - Energy For Water forum, held at the University of California San Diego in February 2009, explores the complex relationship between water and energy.
Web Sites and Programs
- Bottled Water and Energy: A Fact Sheet provides statistics and information on the energy involved with producing bottled water in the U.S from the Pacific Institute.
- Energy Savers: Energy-Efficient Water Heating is a resource provided by the U.S. Department of Energy on increasing the energy efficiency of your household water heater.
- Exploring the Energy-Water Nexus is a resource of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Energy Analysis program that outlines the basics of the water-energy connection.
- River Network's Saving Water, Saving Energy program provides statistics, graphics, reports and news on the water-energy nexus.
- Saving Water Saves Energy: Make the Drops-to-Watts Connection is a resource of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's WaterSense program.
- Sustainable Infrastructure for Water & Wastewater: Energy and Water is a resource page of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with an emphasis on national efforts to reduce climate impacts and save money and water.
- The Power of Water is an interactive site from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill News 21 project. Watch a video introducing energy's drain on water, take part in an interactive challenge to balance a town's water and energy needs and investigate the water requirements of energy production across the country.
- U.S. Geological Survey Water Science for Schools: Thermoelectric-Power Water Use is a Web page outlining the water requirements of producing electricity using thermoelectric sources.
- Watergy, a program of the Alliance to Save Energy, helps cities in developing countries realize significant energy, water and monetary savings, providing consumers with quality water while using a minimum of water and energy.
- Energy vs. Water, Scientific American Special Edition, October 2008
Teaching the Water-Energy Connection Webinar
Join us on Wednesday, March 31, 2010 at 6:30 p.m. Eastern time for EE Week's first ever webinar: Teaching the Water-Energy Connection. Participants will hear about the connections between water and energy use, learn about water and energy conservation projects taking place in schools across the U.S. and get lesson ideas on the water-energy connection in time for EE Week. Learn more
Our friends at Earth Day Network recently developed four lesson plans on the Water-Energy Connection to help middle and high school teachers bring the topic into the classroom in support of EE Week's 2010 theme. Developed by and for educators, these interdiciplinary lessons are correlated to national content standards in science, language arts, social studies and math. Each activity may also be adapted for use with older or younger students.
- The Connection Between Water and Energy Use: An Introduction, Grades 9-12
- Where Does Your Drinking Water Come From?, Grades 5-8
- Understanding the Energy Demand of Bottled Water, Grades 5-8
- Hidden Relationships: Energy Sources and Water Usage, Grades 9-12
Student Fact Sheet
This simple fact sheet, developed by EE Week in partnership with River Network, may be used as an introduction to the topic of water-energy connections for students or adults.
This article provides an overview of the energy -- human and electrical -- that is required for people to have clean, fresh water around the world. The article is written for a middle school audience and may be used to start a class discussion on the water-energy connection. It was featured on National Geographic's My Wonderful World Blog on April 7, 2010.
Click on an image for a full-sized version from the source.