Topic: Energy and Water


Energy and Water

Water and energy are interconnected. A frequent term to describe this relationship is the “water-energy nexus.”

Energy for Water: Energy is needed to store water, get it where it is needed and also treat it to be used:

*  Extracting water from rivers and streams or pumping it from aquifers, and then conveying it over hills and into storage facilities is a highly energy intensive process. The State Water Project (SWP) pumps water 700 miles, including up nearly 2,000 feet over the Tehachapi Mountains. The SWP is the largest single user of energy in California. It consumes an average of 5 billion kWh per year. That’s about 2 to 3 percent of all electricity consumed in California
*  Water treatment facilities use energy to pump and process water for use in homes, businesses and industry
*  Consumers use energy to treat water with softeners or filters, to circulate and pressurize water and to heat and cool water
*  Wastewater plants use energy to pump wastewater to treatment plants, and also to aerate and filter it at the plant.

Different end uses require more electricity for delivery than others. Water for residential, commercial and industrial end-use needs the most energy (11 percent), followed by agricultural end-use (3 percent), residential, commercial and industrial supply and treatment (3 percent), agricultural water supply and treatment (1 percent) and wastewater treatment (1 percent), according to the California Energy Commission.

Water for Energy: Water is used to generate electricity

*  Water is needed either to process raw materials used in a facility or maintaining a plant,or to just generate electricity itself.

Overall, the electricity industry is second only to agriculture as the largest user of water in the United States. Electricity production from fossil fuels and nuclear energy requires 190,000 million gallons of water per day, accounting for 39 percent of all freshwater withdrawals in the nation. Coal, the most abundant fossil fuel, currently accounts for 52 percent of U.S. electricity generation, and each kWh generated from coal requires withdrawal of 25 gallons of water.

Aquafornia news The Desert Review

The gold mine that wants to save the Salton Sea reaches for big projects

The mining company, Imperial Gold, is currently in the process of being approved by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to create a new gold mine by Black Mountain that would see new jobs and health benefits introduced into the Imperial Valley. …. But what was perhaps the most exciting prospect was how their mine construction could have a direct beneficial impact on the health crisis at the Salton Sea, according to [Chief Operating Officer for Imperial Gold, Marc] Leduc.

Aquafornia news Engineering News-Record

Bechtel, Nautilus team to build unique floating data centers

The first floating data center built for Nautilus Data Technologies is getting a second-phase expansion in Stockton, Calif., while the firm accelerates plans for it and Bechtel to engineer and construct others in Maine and possibly Ireland. The multi-year program allows Nautilus to deploy its water-based system for sustainable and efficient data center cooling, while Bechtel focuses on development and construction. … Nautilus completed the floating 7-MW scalable Stockton 1 Data Center, located on a barge on the San Joaquin River, last year before it signed an agreement in June with Bechtel. 

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Cloud seeding gains steam as West faces worsening droughts

As the first winter storms rolled through this month, a King Air C90 turboprop aircraft contracted by the hydropower company Idaho Power took to the skies over southern Idaho to make it snow. Flying across the cloud tops, the aircraft dropped flares that burned as they descended, releasing plumes of silver iodide that caused ice crystals to form and snow to fall over the mountains. In the spring, that snow will melt and run downstream, replenishing reservoirs, irrigating fields and potentially generating hundreds of thousands of additional megawatt hours of carbon-free hydropower for the state. 

Aquafornia news E&E News

‘Total water nerd’ girds to tackle Western drought crisis

For years, policy wonks who wanted to get the lowdown on New Mexico water went to the “Stansbury Hour.” The informal chats — usually at bars — were named for Melanie Stansbury, the driving force behind the gatherings, which were a breeding ground for legislative and regulatory ideas. Stansbury is now in a position to try to put those ideas and others into action. In June, she won a special election to fill former Rep. Deb Haaland’s seat after President Biden tapped Haaland for secretary of the Interior Department.

Aquafornia news San José Spotlight

Opinion: San Jose City Council should protect Coyote Valley

On Oct. 27, the San Jose Planning Commission struck down recommendations from city staff and the San Jose General Plan Task Force to protect Coyote Valley from future development. I cannot express how disappointing this vote was for me. … Commercial development proposals for Coyote Valley are rejected because they cause more wear and tear to our roads, threaten our wildlife crossings, destroy native habitat and endangered species and contaminate our groundwater.
-Written by Assemblymember Ash Kalra, representing the 27th Assembly District, which encompasses approximately half of San Jose and includes all of downtown. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Lithium drilling is happening now at California’s Salton Sea

Barely a mile from the southern shore of the Salton Sea — an accidental lake deep in the California desert, a place best known for dust and decay — a massive drill rig stands sentinel over some of the most closely watched ground in American energy. There’s no oil or natural gas here, despite a cluster of Halliburton cement tanks and the hum of a generator slowly pushing a drill bit through thousands of feet of underground rock. Instead, an Australian company is preparing to tap a buried reservoir of salty, superheated water to produce renewable energy — and lithium, a crucial ingredient in electric car batteries.

Aquafornia news KOLD - Tucson

Farmers see water cuts as semiconductor plants expand in Arizona

All over Pinal County, you see the signs of the drought: empty fields, abandoned cotton gins and it may get worse. The water allocation for Pinal County farmers from the Central Arizona Project is set to drop in January. It could disappear altogether in 2023. But north of Pinal County’s dusty fields, an industry that also relies on large amounts of water is thriving and expanding. Two giant semiconductor projects are getting underway. 

Aquafornia news Pacific Institute

Blog: The U.S. infrastructure plan – water components 

On November 5, 2021, the U.S. Congress passed President Biden’s major infrastructure bill, HR 3684, the $1.2 trillion ‘‘Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.” The President is expected to sign the bill into law. The bill is the largest single federal investment in infrastructure in a generation, with the funds to be expended over five years. It aims to rebuild and replace failing, aging, and outdated water, energy, transportation, and communications systems. 

Aquafornia news TechXplore

Diablo Canyon nuclear plant could provide benefits for California, including desalinated water and clean hydrogen

The Diablo Canyon nuclear plant in California, the only one still operating in the state, is set to close in 2025. A team of researchers … found that this nuclear plant could simultaneously help to stabilize the state’s electric grid, provide desalinated water to supplement the state’s chronic water shortages, and provide carbon-free hydrogen fuel for transportation. 

Aquafornia news Voice of O.C.

Opinion: Let’s talk about well no. 28

As I finished up my night shift on Sept. 30, there was one thing that remained in the back of my mind throughout that day: “WELL No. 28 DRILLING PROJECT” (June – October 2021). Earlier that day, I … came across the infamous (or rather, unknown to residents) drilling project, located near my university’s film school. It didn’t really stand out — I only ever heard about it from my professors, and with some searching, a Facebook post announcing its construction from Aug. 12, 2021.
-Written by Owen Lucas Agbayani, part of the Wilkinson College Student Advisory and Leadership Council, a volunteer for Solar Rights Alliance, as well as an editor for Chapman University’s Undergraduate Law Review.

Aquafornia news Spectrum News 1

Saitex USA uses 98% recycled water in denim production

Traditionally, washing just one pair of denim pants would require about 22 gallons of water, but the green tech washing machines at the Saitex USA factory in Vernon use less than one-fifth of a gallon. General Manager David Chang says that’s … equivalent to saving over 10 million gallons of water per year. Saitex does this by using a recycled water filtration system. While California is experiencing extreme drought with its driest year in a century, Saitex has invested in a future with less water.

Aquafornia news Reuters

California looks to natural gas to keep lights on this winter

After years of restricting the growth of fossil fuel infrastructure, California is looking to natural gas for power generation this coming winter after drought and wildfires leave the state with few other options to keep the lights on. … Hydropower’s contribution to electricity is set to fall to just 5% in 2021, from a five-year average of 12%, while non-hydro renewables, mainly wind and solar, are expected to rise to 37%, government data shows.

Aquafornia news WaterWorld

Yucaipa Valley Water District signs 28-year energy contract with ENGIE

In southern Calif., the Yucaipa Valley Water District (YVWD) Board of Directors have approved a 28-year energy contract with ENGIE North America for a customized solar, storage and microgrid project. YVWD will prioritize the adoption of clean-powered energy to improve its water energy nexus at two of its most critical locations, the Yucaipa Valley Regional Water Filtration Facility and the Wochholz Regional Water Recycling Facility.

Aquafornia news Congressional Research Service

Report: Dam removal and the federal role

Dam owners sometimes consider dam removal as a policy option to address dam safety, ecosystem restoration, or other concerns. The National Inventory of Dams (NID) lists more than 90,000 dams in the United States, many of which function as part of the nation’s water infrastructure and provide benefits (e.g., flood control, hydroelectric power, recreation, navigation, and water supply). Stakeholders may consider the removal of a dam for various reasons—for example, if a certain dam requires major dam safety modifications or no longer provides its intended benefits.

Aquafornia news CNBC

Why water is the next net-zero environmental target

To date, the discussion around companies and governments moving to net-zero has mostly centered on greenhouse gas emissions goals. … But there is another environmental pledge that several companies are now taking, focused on water. Often called “water positive,” it centers on making water-intensive processes more efficient and putting more water back into a geographic area where a company operates than it takes out …

Aquafornia news Press Democrat

Citing rain, Santa Rosa says wildfire season over; PG&E to change new fire prevention plan

Citing the accumulation of nearly two weeks of rain in the North Bay, the Santa Rosa Fire Department on Monday declared an end to the city’s wildfire season, which began May 17 and included blazes as large as 50 acres. In addition, PG&E said it will hit pause on its controversial fire prevention plan that zapped power to Sonoma County customers living in fire-prone areas whenever something touched a power line.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

Unchecked oil and gas wastewater threatens California groundwater

California has a reputation as a leader on climate and environmental policy. So it doesn’t advertise the fact that it allows the oil and gas industry to store wastewater produced during drilling and extraction in unlined pits in the ground, a practice that began in the early 1900s. Now, though, researchers have revealed the environmental costs of California’s failure to regulate how its $111 billion oil and gas industry manages the wastewater, known as produced water. 

Aquafornia news KION546 (Monterey)

Questions about possible desalination plant on the Central Coast continue

For years people on the central coast have been wondering: With the Pacific Ocean in our back yard, why is there a shortage of water? And what can be done about that? As the state grapples with another dry year on the record books, the concern about having a desalination plant on the Central Coast is only growing for some.

Aquafornia news CA Natural Resources Agency

News release: State releases draft California climate adaptation strategy

On the heels of Governor Newsom’s historic $15 billion climate investment, the state today released a draft of the 2021 California Climate Adaptation Strategy to continue the state’s work to confront the climate crisis head-on. The draft strategy is designed to accelerate climate adaptation action across regions and sectors in California; identify how key state agency actions fit together to achieve these priorities; and build on the successes and lessons learned since the first climate adaptation strategy in 2009. 

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Abandoned wells are a huge climate problem

The number of abandoned oil and gas wells in the United States is much higher than previously thought, according to an exclusive analysis shared with The Climate 202.  The analysis, which was done by the Environmental Defense Fund and McGill University, found that there are 81,283 documented orphan wells across the country that were drilled and then improperly abandoned by oil and gas companies. … Each orphan well is a major climate problem: It spews methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

Aquafornia news Pasadena Star News

Oil wells in Bolsa Chica reserve could jeopardize wetlands

A steward of the Bolsa Chica wetlands, Kim Kolpin describes her panic earlier this month when she heard that oil was spilling off the shore of the habitat-rich park she has worked at since 1996. The 1,400-acre Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Huntington Beach is home to 23 species that are endangered, threatened or of special concern. It’s treasured by birdwatchers for the nearly 300 feathered resident and migratory species, many of which lay their eggs there. 

Lower Colorado River Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - May 20

This event explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs was the focus of this tour. 

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

How Private Capital is Speeding up Sierra Nevada Forest Restoration in a Way that Benefits Water
WESTERN WATER SPOTLIGHT: A bond fund that fronts the money is expediting a headwaters restoration project to improve forest health, water quality and supply

District Ranger Lon Henderson with Tahoe National Forest points toward an overgrown section of forest within the Blue Forest project area. The majestic beauty of the Sierra Nevada forest is awe-inspiring, but beneath the dazzling blue sky, there is a problem: A century of fire suppression and logging practices have left trees too close together. Millions of trees have died, stricken by drought and beetle infestation. Combined with a forest floor cluttered with dry brush and debris, it’s a wildfire waiting to happen.

Fires devastate the Sierra watersheds upon which millions of Californians depend — scorching the ground, unleashing a battering ram of debris and turning hillsides into gelatinous, stream-choking mudflows. 

Lower Colorado River Tour 2020
Field Trip - March 11-13

This tour explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs is the focus of this tour. 

Silverton Hotel
3333 Blue Diamond Road
Las Vegas, NV 89139

Lower Colorado River Tour 2018

Lower Colorado River Tour participants at Hoover Dam.

We explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs was the focus of this tour.

Hampton Inn Tropicana
4975 Dean Martin Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89118
Tour Nick Gray

Lower Colorado River Tour 2019

This three-day, two-night tour explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs is the focus of this tour. 

Best Western McCarran Inn
4970 Paradise Road
Las Vegas, NV 89119
Western Water Magazine

Tapping the Ocean: What is the Role of Desalination?
Winter 2016

This issue looks at the role of ocean desalination in meeting California’s water needs today and in the future.


Restoring a River: Voices of the San Joaquin

This 30-minute documentary-style DVD on the history and current state of the San Joaquin River Restoration Program includes an overview of the geography and history of the river, historical and current water delivery and uses, the genesis and timeline of the 1988 lawsuit, how the settlement was reached and what was agreed to.


A Climate of Change: Water Adaptation Strategies

This 25-minute documentary-style DVD, developed in partnership with the California Department of Water Resources, provides an excellent overview of climate change and how it is already affecting California. The DVD also explains what scientists anticipate in the future related to sea level rise and precipitation/runoff changes and explores the efforts that are underway to plan and adapt to climate.


Stormwater Management: Turning Runoff into a Resource

20-minute DVD that explains the problem with polluted stormwater, and steps that can be taken to help prevent such pollution and turn what is often viewed as a “nuisance” into a water resource through various activities.


Drinking Water: Quenching the Public Thirst (60-minute DVD)

Many Californians don’t realize that when they turn on the faucet, the water that flows out could come from a source close to home or one hundreds of miles away. Most people take their water for granted; not thinking about the elaborate systems and testing that go into delivering clean, plentiful water to households throughout the state. Where drinking water comes from, how it’s treated, and what people can do to protect its quality are highlighted in this 2007 PBS documentary narrated by actress Wendie Malick. 


Drinking Water: Quenching the Public Thirst (30-minute DVD)

A 30-minute version of the 2007 PBS documentary Drinking Water: Quenching the Public Thirst. This DVD is ideal for showing at community forums and speaking engagements to help the public understand the complex issues surrounding the elaborate systems and testing that go into delivering clean, plentiful water to households throughout the state.


Water on the Edge (60-minute DVD)

Water truly has shaped California into the great state it is today. And if it is water that made California great, it’s the fight over – and with – water that also makes it so critically important. In efforts to remap California’s circulatory system, there have been some critical events that had a profound impact on California’s water history. These turning points not only forced a re-evaluation of water, but continue to impact the lives of every Californian. This 2005 PBS documentary offers a historical and current look at the major water issues that shaped the state we know today. Includes a 12-page viewer’s guide with background information, historic timeline and a teacher’s lesson.

Maps & Posters

Klamath River Watershed Map
Published 2011

This beautiful 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, displays the rivers, lakes and reservoirs, irrigated farmland, urban areas and Indian reservations within the Klamath River Watershed. The map text explains the many issues facing this vast, 15,000-square-mile watershed, including fish restoration; agricultural water use; and wetlands. Also included are descriptions of the separate, but linked, Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement and the Klamath Hydroelectric Agreement, and the next steps associated with those agreements. Development of the map was funded by a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Maps & Posters

Carson River Basin Map
Published 2006

A companion to the Truckee River Basin Map poster, this 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, explores the Carson River, and its link to the Truckee River. The map includes Lahontan Dam and Reservoir, the Carson Sink, and the farming areas in the basin. Map text discusses the region’s hydrology and geography, the Newlands Project, land and water use within the basin and wetlands. Development of the map was funded by a grant from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Mid-Pacific Region, Lahontan Basin Area Office.

Maps & Posters Colorado River Bundle

Colorado River Basin Map
Redesigned in 2017

Redesigned in 2017, this beautiful map depicts the seven Western states that share the Colorado River with Mexico. The Colorado River supplies water to nearly 40 million people in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and the country of Mexico. Text on this beautiful, 24×36-inch map, which is suitable for framing, explains the river’s apportionment, history and the need to adapt its management for urban growth and expected climate change impacts.


Layperson’s Guide to the Colorado River
Updated 2018

Cover page for the Layperson's Guide to the Colorado River .

The Colorado River provides water to 40 million people and 4 million acres of farmland in a region encompassing some 246,000 square miles in the southwestern United States. The 32-page Layperson’s Guide to the Colorado River covers the history of the river’s development; negotiations over division of its water; the items that comprise the Law of the River; and a chronology of significant Colorado River events.


Layperson’s Guide to California Water
Updated 2015

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to California Water provides an excellent overview of the history of water development and use in California. It includes sections on flood management; the state, federal and Colorado River delivery systems; Delta issues; water rights; environmental issues; water quality; and options for stretching the water supply such as water marketing and conjunctive use.

Aquapedia background

Lake Powell and Glen Canyon Dam

The construction of Glen Canyon Dam in 1964 created Lake Powell. Both are located in north-central Arizona near the Utah border. Lake Powell acts as a holding tank for outflow from the Colorado River Upper Basin States: Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

The water stored in Lake Powell is used for recreation, power generation and delivering water to the Lower Basin states of California, Arizona, and Nevada. 

Western Water Magazine

Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Quality: A Cause for Concern?
September/October 2012

This printed issue of Western Water looks at hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” in California. Much of the information in the article was presented at a conference hosted by the Groundwater Resources Association of California.

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

Making the Connection: The Water/Energy Nexus
September/October 2010

The connection between water and energy is more relevant than ever. After existing in separate realms for years, the maxim that it takes water to produce energy and energy to produce water has prompted a re-thinking of management strategies, including an emphasis on renewable energy use by water agencies.

Western Water Magazine

Making the Connection: The Water/Energy Nexus
September/October 2010

This printed issue of Western Water looks at the energy requirements associated with water use and the means by which state and local agencies are working to increase their knowledge and improve the management of both resources.

Western Water Magazine

Desalination: A Drought Proof Supply?
July/August 2009

This printed issue of Western Water examines desalination – an issue that is marked by great optimism and controversy – and the expected role it might play as an alternative water supply strategy.

Western Water Magazine

A Significant Challenge: Adapting Water Management to Climate Change
January/February 2008

This printed copy of Western Water examines climate change – what’s known about it, the remaining uncertainty and what steps water agencies are talking to prepare for its impact. Much of the information comes from the October 2007 California Climate Change and Water Adaptation Summit sponsored by the Water Education Foundation and DWR and the November 2007 California Water Policy Conference sponsored by Public Officials for Water and Environmental Reform.

Western Water Magazine

Turning Water into Power: Hydropower Projects Under Review
September/October 2005

Hydropower generation is prevalent in the West, where rapidly flowing river systems have been tapped for generations to produce electricity. Hydropower is a clean, steady and reliable energy source, but the damming of rivers has exacted a toll on the environment, affecting, among other things, the migration of fish to vestigial spawning grounds. Many of those projects are due to be relicensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Western Water Magazine

Dealing with the Shock: Shedding Light on the Link Between Water and Power in California
September/October 2001

The California power crisis has made international headlines. But what is the link between water and power in California? How is the state’s dry spell affecting its hydropower generation? How has the electric crisis affected water users in the state? These questions and others are addressed in this issue of Western Water.