Monday, April 6, 2009

From The Ground Up

An intimate relationship

It takes a lot of water to keep electric generation going and and a good bit of power to move and treat water.

The University of Texas and the Environmental Defense Fund released a report today that will tell you how all of that works. It's a hefty read at 56 pages, but when you consider Texas power plants use 157 million gallons of water every year, enough for the home use of 3 million people per year, it's an important read.

Power plants heat water into steam to turn turbines and more water to cool down and condense the steam back into water for reuse. On the other side of the equation, getting water out of the ground, moving it to consumers and treating the resulting wastewater takes electricity.

The upshot is improving water conservation reduces power use and improving energy efficiency reduces water needs.

The report may give you more details than you really want in its 56 pages, but there are some eye openers. For example, it says average U.S. indoor residential water use breaks down to 31 percent for toilets and 25 percent for clothes washers, the two top categories of usage. Conservation costs money sometimes, but putting a bladder or brick in your toilet tank is cheap.

Look out the window for where the real savings can happen. The report says usage for your yard and such averages about 58 percent of all residential use.

The report, the first in a series, may make you wonder sometimes with phrases like "cross-sectional vulnerability," but it's pretty educational. Just hope policy makers pay attention so you're not the only one making good decisions about water and power use.

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