New Report Says U.S. Is "Burning Our Rivers"
More than half of fresh surface water withdrawn goes to electricity production; some is polluted, some is evaporated, and most of it is warmed, altering ecosystems and killing aquatic life. Coal, including mining, is the biggest offender, followed by nuclear power: two nuclear power plants in Georgia, for example, use more water than all the residents of Atlanta, Augusta, and Savannah combined.
Natural gas, which this year generated as much electricity as coal in the U.S., also has a significant water footprint—even though the report does not address hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) due to lack of data. Hydropower, despite its green reputation, causes about 9 billion gallons a day to evaporate from reservoir surfaces. The authors conclude that, in addition to shifting to virtually zero-water-footprint technologies like wind and solar, modernizing “once-through” cooling systems in existing power plants could save more water than all U.S. residential water conservation programs combined. For more information, see.
Published July 30, 2012