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California’s record-breaking drought is not just a result of climate change — it’s also making climate change worse. Accordingto a new study, population growth and energy-sapping water projects have driven up emissions and slowed down decarbonization campaigns. As it gets more and more difficult for Californians to rely on reservoirs and aquifers, the state must turn to new technologies like desalination and water recycling that are much more energy-intensive.
Reforming water efficiency would have the biggest effect on the state’s emissions. Without making these changes, urban water demand would increase by 24%, annual water-related electricity use would increase 21%, and natural gas consumption would increase by 25%.
“If you think about water and energy together, then some of the decisions we make will be different,”Peter Gleick, co-founder and president emeritus of the Pacific Institute,told The Hill. “Given the climate crisis, it’s important we make smarter decisions about both water and energy.”
The study’s authors suggest more energy-efficient ways of preparing water for everyday use, like installing higher efficiency groundwater pumps and providing financial incentives for suppliers to implement less energy-intensive systems. They also recommended standardizing data reporting, tracking energy use, and creating a more organized system of communication between water and energy agencies.
Most importantly, they suggested water heater electrification, because natural gas water heating is the most energy-intensive end use of water in the state. If the state were to rely on water recycling and desalination, agencies should consider larger-scale reforms like decarbonizing the grid and implementing more aggressive conservation policies.
By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor In another significant blow to the Pebble Mine project in Alaska, the EPA has asked a federal court to allow Clean Water Act protections for parts of Bristol Bay, a body of water that stands to be decimated if the project continues. Environmental advocates and Alaska Native tribes hope […]
By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor A federal judge has thrown out a Trump administration environmental rollback that scaled back federal protections for the nation’s streams, marshes, and wetlands. Despite support from farm and business groups, the federal judge ruled that the rollback could lead to “serious environmental harm.” Environmental groups are celebrating the decision, which will reinstate protections for […]
By Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer Between 1991 and 2020, Brazil lost 15% of its surface water, a new study shows. The country holds the most water resources globally, but both the world’s most extensive wetlands and rainforests are losing water at rapid rates. Now, severe drought and deforestation threaten water security and access to energy and food for millions, […]
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