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Quick Guide: Water Energy Nexus

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By now we’re all pretty well programmed to conserve electricity. Turn off the lights, unplug appliances, don’t leave the refrigerator door open, etc. But most of us still miss a really important point: the water energy nexus. Almost one fifth of California’s energy is used to move water.  Water conservation and water management are becoming vital to energy conservation. Nearly 75% of the state’s rainfall occurs in Northern California, while 75% of the agricultural and urban water use is in Central and Southern California.  Water is moved around the state to support economic and urban development.  Without water projects to move water, Central and Southern California would look dramatically different.

The California economy is the eighth largest economy in the world and without water would not be able to support the farming or industrial production it enjoys today. For those of us living in Southern California we receive about half our water from snow in the Sierra Nevada mountains over 400 miles away. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to move the water (which is very heavy) from Northern California to Southern California especially over the 3000’ Tehachapi Pass.  It is an amazing engineering feat to move all this water, but is it sustainable? The United States consumes about 20% of the world’s supply of electricity.

California ranks number 2 behind Texas for states using the most electrical power. Although California ranks 48th in energy consumption per capita, it still does not produce enough energy to meet it’s consumption needs and ends up being a net importer of electricity.  Way to go  Pennsylvania, Alabama, and West Virginia, all states generating more electricity than they can use and are net exporters.  How does your state rank?  Check here. The summer landscape watering season is just finishing up.  How much did you pay for electricity to move water around the state to end up letting it run down the gutter?  Below are a few simple activities you can perform today to make sure your system is operating efficiently.

Simple Ways to Save Water and Energy

  1. Turn on your system and adjust sprinklers to avoid waste and ensure uniform distribution.
  2. Install rain shut-off devices.
  3. Landscapes are most overwatered in the fall when your timer is still set for summer. Get out there and make those adjustments today.
  4. Establish a water budget, or hire someone to do this for you. This creates a standard for water use to measure against. It also helps you plan your irrigation schedule.  Here is a great tool to do this from the EPA.

Higher energy costs are significantly impacting our lives. We need to take additional action to reduce energy consumption in the United States.  We can do this without abandoning efficiency, comfort, or the use of technology. There are ways to consume energy more sustainably without going to extreme measures, or huge personal sacrifice. Making a few adjustments in the way we use water is simple, effective, and a step in the right direction.  If you enjoyed this post please consider subscribing or follow me on Twitter @H2oTrends.

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