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How To Ensure Clean Water Supplies? Energy-Efficient Desalination Could Be Key

by Christopher Perry, Senior Analyst, Buildings Program
(This is the fourth blog post in our series on the energy-water nexus. Our first post outlined the potential impact of climate change, our second suggested methods of reducing energy and water consumption, and our third summarized ACEEE's past work in this area and potential future work.)

The coastal United States faces difficult challenges as it seeks to provide clean water to its growing population. Because of saltwater intrusion, it may need to construct more energy-intensive water desalination plants or implement underutilized water reuse techniques. This prospect presents a grave concern to those in the energy industry, which is why this post concludes with recommendations for coastal areas to minimize water and energy consumption as they address water shortage concerns.

Our growing population and saltwater intrusion will stress water supply and energy resources
At the current rate, the United States would require an additional 11 billion gallons of fresh water per day in 2020, compared to 2016, despite the long-term trend of less water use per capita (largely thanks to water efficiency programs). Certain coastal areas will also experience more water stress from climate change than their non-coastal counterparts. Saltwater intrusion into traditional fresh water aquifers in states like Florida means these areas may need to consider implementing more advanced treatment methods or finding new water sources. Californians suffered through six years of drought, and though the recent heavy rainfall has brought relief, there is no guarantee that the state's water struggles are over. A 2016 NASA study found 9% of the US coastline is especially susceptible to saltwater infiltration of fresh groundwater supply, including areas in southeastern Florida, Southern California, and Long Island, New York...

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Contact FacilitiesNet Editorial Staff »   posted on: 2/2/2017

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