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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 Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer For decades, uranium mining has contaminated the Navajo Nation, causing higher cancer rates and water pollution. Even though the health risks and environmental harms of uranium mining are well-established, new operations continue to move forward. One local group, the Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining (ENDAUM) hasn’t found a […]
By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that he would extend the drought emergency statewide and issued an executive order to have residents conserve water. As part of this effort, eight new counties were added to the state of emergency, and authorized the State Water Resources Control Board was authorized to […]
By Elizabeth Love, ODP Contributing Writer Authorities in the Canadian Arctic territory Nunavut, announced a state of emergency this week due to a possible contamination event affecting the City of Iqaluit’s water supply. Tests were performed after residents reported the smell of gasoline coming from their tap water, but they came back clean. However, […]
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