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Avoiding Water-Intensive Energy Production: How to Keep the Water Running and the Lights On

November 2011

Citation: ELR 11020

Author: Katherine A. Abend

The confluence of growing water demand and global warming impacts are stressing U.S. water supplies. Water shortages pose a major threat to the reliability and affordability of U.S. electricity because 96% of the nation’s power comes from thermoelectric and hydropower facilities that require sufficient water to function. State legislatures, energy-planning agencies, and water boards should work in concert to encourage deployment of technologies that will reduce the amount of water needed to produce electricity. Deployment of water-efficient energy facilities is suitable under both riparian and prior appropriation water systems.

Katherine A. Abend is an attorney at the U.S. DOJ Environment and Natural Resources Division, serving within the Environmental Enforcement Section.

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