A Twenty-First Century US Water Policy

By Juliet Christian-Smith; Peter H. Gleick et al. | Go to book overview

9
WATER AND ENERGY

Heather Cooley and Juliet Christian-Smith


Introduction

Water and energy are intricately connected: We use water to produce energy and energy to produce water. Throughout the 20th century, however, these connections were largely ignored. Water and energy managers were separated by well-defined silos and rarely communicated with one another. Water systems were designed and constructed with the assumption that energy would be cheap and abundant. Likewise, energy systems were developed with the assumption that water would be cheap and abundant. And although some have long argued that we would reach peak energy and, more recently, peak water (Gleick and Palaniappan 2010), assumptions about abundance were the status quo.

The era of abundance is coming to an end and is being replaced by the era of limits. Throughout the United States, conflicts between energy production and water availability are on the rise. Some water managers actively seek ways to optimize the efficiency of their water systems in response to rising energy costs and concerns about greenhouse gas emissions. Likewise, there is growing concern that water availability and quality affects the nation’s energy security. In January 2008, there was concern that a drought could force a shutdown of nuclear plants across the Southeast United States if water dropped below the level of the intake pipes or if it was too warm to use for cooling. Even though rolling blackouts did not occur, energy prices were expected to spike (Weiss 2008). In September 2010, water levels in Lake Mead dropped to 1,084 feet, prompting the Bureau of Reclamation to reduce Hoover Dam’s energy generation by one-third. As water levels continue to drop and the threat of climate change looms

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A Twenty-First Century US Water Policy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • List of Abbreviations xiii
  • Introduction- the Soft Path for Water xv
  • 1 - The Water of the United States 3
  • 2 - Legal and Institutional Framework of Water Management 23
  • 3 - Water and Environmental Justice 52
  • 4 - Tribes and Water 90
  • 5 - Water Quality 109
  • 6 - Protecting Freshwater Ecosystems 142
  • 7 - Municipal Water Use 167
  • 8 - Water and Agriculture 195
  • 9 - Water and Energy 221
  • 10 - Water and Climate 244
  • 11 - United States International Water Policy 263
  • 12 - Conclusions and Recommendations 288
  • Appendix - Key Pieces of Federal Legislation 305
  • Notes 313
  • About the Authors 317
  • Index 319
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