Meeting higher energy demands is putting energy production and water supplies on a "collision course with profound consequences," according to a report published Wednesday.
Circle of Blue, an international, nonpartisan network of journalists and scientists, issued "Choke Point: U.S." at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting in New York City. The group said it found an "emerging and critical conflict" in the United States between the rising demand for new sources of energy and the nation's diminishing supplies of fresh water.
The authors concluded that the "speed and force" of the collision between energy demand and water supply is occurring in the places where growth is highest and water resources are under the most stress: California, the Southwest, the Rocky Mountain West and the Southeast.
"The global water crisis is a universally threatening and immensely complex problem that cuts across the planet's most significant issues ranging from health and human rights to economic security," said Circle of Blue co-founder J. Carl Ganter. "As hundreds of billions of dollars enter the energy sector from government, companies and philanthropies, this reporting provides new data, context and heightened awareness for informing the decisions necessary to resolve these challenges."
For the study, Circle of Blue sent expert teams across North America to examine the energy/water struggles.
"They returned with compelling new narratives of the urgent contests between energy development and water supply that can be resolved, but also pose extraordinarily difficult challenges to regional economies, governing practices, technological development and the quality of natural resources."
Without more careful planning, "generating energy from clean alternatives is almost certain to consume more water than the fossil fuels they are meant to replace," said the report. Among other things, the authors concluded the following:
The report is available at www.circleofblue.org.
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