24 Oct 2012

Dealing with the water-energy nexus

SS observes:
My experience with the energy crowd (DOE, etc.) is that they make assumptions about water availability (there's always enough) and price (it's low enough to be negligible for whatever thermoelectric monstrosities we'd want to build) -- both of which may be bad assumptions. That kind of ignorance on the part of the DOE is what allows them to be seduced by corn growers, nuclear power generators, and others, and what allows them to sign off on projects that have no business being built in certain communities/watersheds. At a very high level, directives will come down saying that we need to pursue a, for instance, "low carbon future" and water be damned. There have been quite a few power plant permits that have been denied recently as a matter of public awareness and uncertain water supplies, which seems like a step in the right direction. I'd like to see the power industry avoid those places from the outset because high water prices would keep the project from being economical, but we're nowhere near that.

If both energy and water were priced correctly (and neither are!) I agree that we wouldn't need the two sectors to share notes, but how do you push it in that direction without waiting for emergencies? What is Step 1?
Step 1: Do you have rights to your water source? Is your consumption sustainable? If yes and yes, then proceed.