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Water, Energy and Environment Nexus: The California Experience

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  • Los Angeles CleanTech Incubator (LACI)

Abstract

The paper addresses the local and inter-state connections between water, energy and the environment. Using California and the western USA as a case study, the paper highlights the difficulties of balancing the needs of diverse stakeholders and protecting valuable resources while providing reliable and safe supplies of both water and energy to agricultural, industrial and residential customers. The investigation of these complex relationships is necessary to inform local and national policy decisions regarding the management of water, energy and the environment.
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International Journal
of Water Resources
Development
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authors and subscription information:
http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/cijw20
Water, Energy and
Environment Nexus: The
California Experience
Denise Lofman , Matt Petersen & Aimée Bower
Published online: 21 Jul 2010.
To cite this article: Denise Lofman , Matt Petersen & Aimée Bower (2002) Water,
Energy and Environment Nexus: The California Experience, International Journal of
Water Resources Development, 18:1, 73-85, DOI: 10.1080/07900620220121666
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07900620220121666
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Water Resources Development, Vol. 18, No. 1, 73–85, 2002
Water, E nergy and Environment Nexus: The California
Experience
DENISE LOFMAN
1
, MATT PETERSEN
1
& AIME
´
E BOWER
2
1
Gl obal Green USA, 227 Broadway Suite 302, Sant a Monica, CA 90401, USA. E-mail:
dlofman@globalgreen.org; mpetersen@globalgreen.org;
2
RAND, 1700 Main Street, PO Box
2138, Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138 . E-mail: bower@rand.org
ABSTRACT The paper addresses the local and inter-state connection s between water,
energy and the environment. Using California a nd the western USA as a case study, the
paper highlights the difculties of balancing the needs of diverse stakeholders and
protectin g valuable resources while providing reliable and safe supplies of both water and
energy to agricultural, industrial and residential customers. The investigation of these
complex relationshi ps is necessar y to inform local a nd national policy decisions regard-
ing the managem ent of water, energy and the environment.
Introduction*
Co ntemporary society in developed nations has beco me accustomed to a readily
available supply of both water an d energy through the turn of a faucet or the ip
of a switch. Ho wever, the connections between water and energy are o ften not
clearly visible to the public. The lack of transparency and understanding about
the value of water and energy and the systems that provide these resources has
led to the overuse and mismanagement of both resour ces. The objective of this
paper is t o explore the connections between water and energy and to bring
awareness to some of the numerous ways these two valuable resources interact
with and are dependent upon one another, and ho w their management affects
the environm ent.
C alifornia provides a good setting to examine the relationship between water,
energy and the environment. The state has an elaborate water storage and
co nveyance system which transports water from wet areas to dry areas, has
facilitated the creation of millions of acres of fertile farmland and consumes a
tr emendous amount of energy to make this possible. California is famous for its
n atural resources—its mountains, oceans and deserts—all of which are affected
by the gener ation of energy and the availability of water. Los Angeles, the state’s
largest city, has attained its status because of the Hoover dam, which provides
on e-thir d of the water used by Angelenos and initially supplied 75% of the
elect ricity used in the city.
C alifornia’s recent energy problems have focused attention on the state’s
res ources and policies. Over the past year, California residents have seen
* An expanded version of this article will appear in The Global Green USA Report: The Water, Energy, and
Environment Nexus: Exploring The Intersections—Th e California Experience.
0790-062 7 Print/1360-0648 On-line/02/010073–13
Ó
2002 Taylor & Francis Ltd
DOI: 10.1080/0790062022012166 6
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74 D. Lofma n et al.
elect ricity rates jump 300%, ro lling blackouts, energy surpluses and policies
implem ented to addres s these problems that will affect the state for years to
co me. Agencies responsible for the management of the power and water in
Califo rnia have had to make difcult choices to balance the needs of their
div erse constituencies. Cities demand power; farmers need to irrigate; sh
require water to migrate and spawn. And now that it is clear that California is
experienc ing a below-normal hydrological cycle, the problems become even
mo re acute—fewer resources and more demand.
Background Information
Hydroelectric Power
The rst thing most people think about when asked to consider the connection
betw een water and energy is hydropower. The advantage of conventional
hydr oelectric methods (i.e. dams) is that they are a net producer of energy and
so can provide low-cost base-load electricity. The disadvantage is that they are
subject to the time of year and amount of precipitation received. The pumped-
st orage method, which pumps water to a reservoir at a higher elevation when
energy demand is low, and releases the water to generate electricity when
dem and is high, is very useful because the cycle can be c ontrolled even though
the met hod is a net user of elec tricity. It is actually economical to use pumped
st orage because it co nsumes low-cost (off-peak) energy and generates high-value
(on-peak) elect ricity.
A ccording to the California Energy Commiss ion, roughly 25% of California’s
elect ricity comes from hydroelectric power—approximately 20–22% from large
hydr oelectric and approximately 3–4% from small hydroelectric plants. The
st ate’s hydroelectric plants, located primarily in the eastern mountain ranges,
have a total capacity of about 6900 MW. Pumped-storage hydroelectric plants
add another 3222 MW of capacity. One-third of the hydroelectric power used in
Califo rnia comes from the Pacic north-west (Higgins, 2001).
A History of Dams in the Western USA
The numerous dams and hydroelectric plants that provide energy to the state of
Califo rnia are a product of the era of big-dam construction that was begun by
the construction of the Hoover dam on the Colorado River, the largest public
wo rks project of its time, which was completed in 1936. After the Hoover dam,
many others were planned and constructed along the Colorado, the Snake, the
Co lumbia and almost every o ther major river in the western USA. The dams
pro vided ood control, energy and water for both irrigation and domestic use,
perm itting the creation of cities such as La s Vegas in t he midst of deserts. There
are currently more than 2300 hydroelectric dams in the USA , providing roughly
11% of the country’s total energy supply (Schueller, 2001).
T he end of the big-dam era in the USA began in the1960s with the start of the
envir onmental movement and the passage of t he Wilderness Act 1964 and the
Wild and Scenic Rivers Act 1968. In recent years, the negative impact of dams
has gained increasing attention. The list of problems caused by dams is s ubstan-
tial: destruction of habitat, elimination of natural river ow, soil salination,
res ervoir sedimentation, channel erosion, increased water temperatures and the
devas tation of sheries, to name a few. In addition, there is increasing evidence
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Water, Energy and Environment Nexus 75
that dam projects are actually net producers of greenhouse gas emissions. All
large dams and natural lakes that have been measured emit greenhouse gas es.
Gas es such as carbon dioxide and methane are produced through the decompo-
sit ion of vegetation in the ooded area. It is not clear yet, however, how
emis sions may change over time, or how emissions from reservoirs compare
with pre-ooding emissions (World Commission on Dams, 2000).
In the USA, the trend is turning towards tearing down dams, rather tha n
building new ones. Conservationist writer Marc Reisner (2000) explains how
dam removal is impacting wildlife:
From California to Maine, dam removal has begun. When four small
div ersion dams were taken off a Sierra Nevada stream called Butte
Cr eek, record numbers of spring-run Chinook salmo n—listed by the US
as a threatened species—rushed past their ruins to spawn. If the
spr ing-run Chinook ends up on the more serious endangered-species
list, t hat will trigger more restrictions on diversion from its spawning
riv ers. So helping the spring-run by getting rid of a few dams could be
wo rth billions to California’s economy, which is hopelessly dependent
on the manipulation of water. (Reisner, 2000, p. 71)
Dams are removed when the perceived costs (e.g . loss of wildlife habitat,
bloc ked sh migration, safety concerns and loss of r ecreational oppo rtunities)
out weigh the perceived benets (e.g. irrigation, energy, water supply and ood
co ntrol). According to the American Rivers’ web site, as of last year, 480 dams
had been removed in the USA. (American R ivers is a non-prot organization
dedic ated to prot ecting and restoring rivers in the USA.) Forty dam removals
oc curred in 1999 and 2000, and 40 mo re are scheduled for 2001.
N ew dam construction in the USA has slowed dramatically for numerous
reaso ns: environmental, public opposition, and the enorm ous capital investment
requir ed, not to mention that many of the best sites have already been used.
Data from RDI, a Colorado-based co nsulting rm, show that hydro generation
has been in decline for the past couple of years. Nation-wide, total electricity
generated from hydro sources was down by about 15% in 2000 compared to
1999 (Environmental News Network, 2001b).
The Vast Water Management Infrastructure
Dams are only one part o f the enormous water supply infrastructure that
cr iss-crosses the state of California . The two most signicant water projects in
Califo rnia are the Central Valley Project (CVP) and the State Water Project
(SWP).
Planni ng for the CVP started as far back as 1919 when Colonel Robert
Brad ford Marshall, Chief Geographer for the US Geological Survey, proposed
building a system to transfer water from the Sacramento Valley to the San
Joaquin Valley (Stene, 2001). The project was centred around ood control and
pro viding water for irrigation and domestic use. Construction began in the late
1930s and continued through most of the 20th century.
The CVP:
· consists of 20 dams and reservoirs, 11 power plants and 500 miles (805 km) of
m ajor canals, as well as conduits, tunnels and related facilities;
· manages some 9 3 10
6
acr e-feet (11 3 10
9
m
3
) of water;
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76 D. Lofma n et al.
· annually delivers about 7 3 10
6
ac re-feet (8.6 3 10
9
m
3
) of water for agricul-
t ural, urban and wildlife use;
· provides about 5 3 10
6
ac re-feet (6.1 3 10
9
m
3
) for farms—enough to irrigate
abo ut 3 3 10
6
acres (1.2 3 10
6
ha), o r approximately one-third of the agricul-
t ural land in California;
· furnishes about 600 000 acre-feet (740 3 10
6
m
3
) for municipal and industrial
us e—enough to supply close to 1 million households with their water needs
each year;
· generates 5.6 3 10
9
kWh of electricity annually to meet the needs of about 2
m illion people;
· dedicates 800 000 acre-feet (987 3 10
6
m
3
) per year to sh an d wildlife and their
habit at and 410 000 acre-feet (505 3 10
6
m
3
) to state and federal wildlife refuges
and wetlands, pursuant to the Central Valley Project Improvement Act (Cen-
t ral Valley Project General Overview, 2001)
Co nstruction of the SWP, built and funded by the state of California, began in
the early 1960s to supply additional water to the ever-thirsty cities and farmers
of southern California.
The SWP:
· consists of 32 storage facilities, reservoirs and lakes; seven pumping plants;
t hree pumping generating plants; ve hydroelectric power plants; and about
660 miles (1062 km) of open canals and pipelines;
· provides some of the wat er used by approximately 20 million Californians and
abo ut 660 000 acres (267 093 ha) of irrigated farmland;
· of the contracted water supply, 70% goes to urba n uses and 30% goes to
agric ultural us ers (Department of Wat er Resources, State Water Project
O verview, 2001)
Energy Used in Transporting and Treating Water
Get ting water from its so urc e to the end user requires a signicant amount of
energy . The energy costs of water use in California are hig h because of two
prim ary reasons: (1) most of the demand is located at a considerable distance
from the source; and (2) water is heavy and moving it is quite energy-intensive
(one acre-foot of water weighs approximately 1357 short tons/1231 metric
to nnes). Additionally, water that is to be used for consumption needs to be
tr eated, another energy-intensive process. Acc ording to the California Depart-
ment of Water Resources (DWR), “water pumping is the single most signicant
user of electricity in the state, using ve percent of t he state’s peak load and
sev en percent of the total electricity usage in California” (Ameriscan, 2001).
T he California Energy Commission Energy Efciency Division, Process En-
ergy Group, prepared a report Energy Use in the Supply, Use and Disposal of Water
in California in January 1999 (Anderson, 1999). According to this report, “the total
energy used to pump and treat this water [used in the state] ex ceeds 15 000 GWh
per year, or at least 6.5% of the total electricity used in the State per year”. The
SWP is the largest single user of electrical energy in the state. It takes water
thr ough the southern San Joaquin Valley to the Tehachapi Mountains, where t he
A. D. Edmonston pumping plant raises the water 1926 feet (587 m) to ente r 10
mil es (16 km) of tunnels and siphons which traverse the Tehachapi mountain
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Water, Energy and Environment Nexus 77
range. It accounts for 2–3% of all the electricity consumed in California. The SWP
uses an average of 5000 GWh per year (Anderson, 1999).
Environmental Implications of the Energy and Water Connection
The transport and treatment of water, in that they r equire substantial amounts
of energy, also have environmental implications. Califo rnia’s primary power
generato r, burning of natural gas, releases greenhouse gases that contribute to
glo bal warming and other pollutants, such as particulate matter, that c ontribute
to the state’s air quality problems. Also, there are many environmental impacts
associated with hydropower, as described earlier in the paper.
Water Uses
Acc ording to the California DWR, the state receives 200 3 10
6
acr e-feet (246 3 10
9
m
3
) of rain and snowfall annually. Runoff that is captured and usable is 71 3 10
6
acre-feet (88 3 10
9
m
3
). Agricultural water use accounts for 43% of the s tate’s
captur ed 71 3 10
6
acre-feet (88 3 10
9
m
3
) of water. Eleven per cent is used in
urban areas, and the remainder, 46%, is used for environmental purposes such
as stream ow requirements and w etland habitat. Of the water not used for the
envir onment, agriculture consumes 80% while cities use about 20 % (Pacic
Res earch, 2001).
Recent Events
A 1996 state deregulation plan that was meant to make electricity cheaper for
co nsumers instead resulted in skyrocketing utility bills, forced the states largest
utili ty to le fo r Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and sent the state’s legislators
into a cont entious battle over how best to resolve what was comm only referred
to as the state’s ‘energy crisis’. The rst casualties occurred in the sum mer of
2000: residents of San Diego w ere subjected to bills two and three times larger
than normal. The crisis soon spread to other areas in the state: in December 2000,
no rthern California areas experienced rolling blackouts and in the spring of 2001
blacko uts occurred in many parts of the state.
In late March 2001, the California Independent System Operator issued an
assessment of the energy situation in California. The report predicte d that
Califo rnia would be experiencing shortages of energy during the summer and
wo uld therefore be subject to rotating blackouts. As it turned out, energy
sho rtages and rolling blackouts did not materialize, most likely due to a
co mbination of factors including low temperatures, consumer conservation and
legisl ators’ actio ns to secure energy sources.
The Energy Crisis and California Water Agencies and Utilities
In addition to the obvious effects of the energy crisis on the states electric
utili ties are the less apparent effects on the state’s water agencies and utilities.
In response to reduced availability of energy, water operators were forced to
int errupt no rmal operations and investigate using alternative sources of power.
The Association of California Water Agencies (ACW A), a public water agency
advocacy group whose 435 members are responsible for 90% of the water
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78 D. Lofma n et al.
deliv ered in California, announced in February that they had reached agree-
ments with two companies to help members purchase solar power devices and
mic roturbine electricity generators. The deal will allow member agencies to buy
phot ovoltaic solar units and 30 kW and 60 kW microturbines at signi cantly
reduc ed prices (Ameriscan, 2001). The ACWA has been lobbying both the state
and federal governments for money to fund these purchase s and to support the
aggressive implementation of demand management programmes.
A dditional costs water utilities are forced to pay will be passed along to the
co nsumer. According to the ACWA (2001), because electricity costs make up
20–80% of a water utilitys total operating budget, consumers may soon see
elect ricity-related pric e increases in their monthly water and sewer bills.
Below-normal Precipitation in California and the Pacic North-west
Ex acerbating the energy crisis are drought and below-normal precipitation
co nditions in California and the Pacic north-west. At the end of March,
Califo rnia was at 76% of the historic average for precipitation. W ater agencies
are starting to react to the evidence that, for the  rst t ime in 6 years, California
is in a below-average water year. The Turlock Irrigation District’s response to
the dry hydrological conditions includes lowering the allotment t o farmers from
48 inches (1.2 m) of irrigation water to 42 inches (1.1 m) (Giblin, 2001). The
Tur lock Irrigation District provides irri gation water to nearly 5800 growers with
150 000 acres (60 703 ha) in central California.
T he situation in the no rth-west is similarly bad. “With the driest winter in 70
years, the Bonneville Power Association [BPA] faces the difcult task of produc-
ing power while meeting t he obligations of the US Endangered Species Act”
(Knicker bocker, 2001). The BPA is a federal agency, under th e US Department of
Ener gy, whose function is to sell the power produced at 29 federal dams located
in the Columbia–Snake river basin. The BPA primarily serves Oregon, Washing-
ton and Idaho, but also provides power direct ly to small portion s of California
and sells surplus power to California.
T he BPA issued a news release on 12 January 2001 outlining the agency’s
wo rrisome conditions:
BPA and the region are facing a combination of power supply and
eco nomic challenges that are unprecedented in its history. The region’s
pow er supply is signicantly reduced due to the following conditions:
· Low streamow and snowpack conditions have reduced the
amo unt of hydropower generation available in the region;
· Und er the Biological Opinion, a low streamow and snowpack
co ndition forces a very conservative winter hydro system oper -
ation in order to provide a reasonable probability of having
enou gh water for s pring ow augmentation;
· In general, Northwest generating resources have not kept up with
incr eased demand; and
· The region’s historic ability to import signicant amounts of
win ter-surplus energy from California, the Eastern Interties and
Canada appears to be substantially reduced due to a lack of
sur plus resources in those areas. (BPA, 2001b)
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Water, Energ y and Environment Nexus 79
Global Cli mate Change and Water Supplies
Pot entially aggravating California’s water supply problems is the recently
ident ied trend that the snowmelt is occ urring earlier than it used to. The early
sno wmelt may be attributed to the effects of global warming on California’s
clim ate. T here is increasing evidence that global warming has affected the water
cyc le in California: while total precipitation has not signicantly changed, there
is less snow and more winter rain and the snow melts faster. These potentia l
changes in the state’s hydrological cycle may have signicant impacts on
Califo rnia’s w ater supply.
Dan Cayan, Director of the Climate Research Division at the Scripps Inst i-
tut ion of Oceanography, notes that “since the mid-1970s, runoff during the late
spr ing and early summer has dropped to barely 30 percent of the annual total”
(Perlm an, 2001). According to a Pew Center on Climate Change study (Frederick
& Gleick, 1999), climate models predict that global warming will have three
major effects on mountainous watersheds: increase the ratio of rain to snow,
accelerate the rate of spring snowmelt, and shorten the ov eral l snowfall season,
leading to mo re rapid, earlier, and greater spring runoff”.
Drought Conditions
The region’s dry hydrological conditions only exacerbate an already difcult
energy situation. The Governor’s Advisory Drought Planning Panel (2000, ch. 2,
p. 17) prepar ed a Critical Water Shortage Contingency Plan on 29 December
2000. The pla n had the following to say about the possibility of a drought, given
the current energy crisis:
Deregulati on of electric utilities in California has created substantial
upheaval in the State ’s power market. Adding dry hydro logic condi-
tio ns to this situation would exacerbate the present risks of power
out ages. Hydroelectric power production would decrease, and power
usage could increase as a result of the increased groundwater extraction
no rmally occurring during dry periods. In today’s deregulated market,
pow er costs can be an increasingly large component of the costs of
co nveying water—whether SWP water or non-project water—via the
Califo rnia Aqueduct to Southern C alifornia.
Add itionally, when the water table falls, during a dry hydrological cycle or
wh en the aquifer is overpumped, more power is required to extract groundwa-
ter. An aquifer with a very low water table can have the added problem of
greater saltwater intrusion, meaning that pumped water requires additional
tr eatment.
T hese circumstances bring the complete int ercon nection between energy and
wat er sharply into focus. Those responsible for water management have to m ake
to ugh decisions. Water and power are inextricably linked”, said Earl Cum-
min gs, a spokesman for the state Department of Water Resources in Sacramento.
“A shortage in water creates a shortage of power.” In a drought year, you have
co mpeting demands for water”, said Lon House, an energy advisor to the
ACW A. During dry hydrological years, water utilities and farmer s pump more
wat er from groundwater basins, requiring yet more energy. Water requirements
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80 D. Lofma n et al.
are highest during the summer, when electricity also reaches its peak. Lon
Ho use: “Is it better to hold water in reservoirs for cities and farms, or is it bette r
to generate power with? Is it better to irrigate crops early in the summer or hold
it until later in the year to generate power?” (Rogers, 2001).
A low hydrological year also forces utilities to balance the needs of electricity
user s and the environment. The BPA has struggled and is struggling to deter-
mine how much water should be used to help migrating sh and how much
sho uld be used for power. A BPA press release of 9 March 2001 says:
The traditional spill regime for salmon begins in April. However, the
salm on from the Spring Creek Hatchery migrate earlier than the up-
st ream threatened and endangered species. Given this earlier migration
st art, the National Marine Fisher ies Service; the US Fish and Wildlife
Service, which operates the hatchery; the states of Oregon and Wash-
ingt on; and t he Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission request
this early spill each year. The returning adult Spring Creek Hatchery
fall chinook are an important buffer to Endangered Species Act listed
st ocks in treaty and non treaty ocean an d Columbia River mixed stock
sher ies. (BPA, 2001c)
The BPA released a targeted spill w hich was only 10% of the previous year’s
spill. The water, which did not go through the turbines at the dam and so did
not generate any power, is valued at about $2.1 million (BPA, 2001d). The
Env ironmental News Network noted in January 2001 that “On at least two
oc casions last summer, the Bo nneville Power Administration—the federal
agency responsible for marketing power from dams in the Pacic Northwest—
used water meant to aid migrating juvenile salmon to supply California with
hydr oelectricity”.
Des pite the energy shortages, conservation groups are still lobbying fo r the
rem oval of four dams on the Lower Snake River. Removal of th e dams could
facilitate t he recovery of endangered salmon populations. The dams produce
about 1231 MW of power, enough electricity to power the city of Seatt le or about
5% of the region’s energy supply. Less than 1% of Californias energy supply
co mes from the Lower Snake River dams, conservation groups note. The BPA is
requir ed by the current federal Biologic al Opinion on salmon recovery to
pro vide minimum ow and spill levels to help salmon survive the dams. In
pow er ‘emergencies’, however, those sh passage measures can be suspended to
allow for additional hydropower generation (Higgins, 2001).
In addition to deciding between water for power and water for sh, the BPA
is also balancing the need for power with the irrigation needs of farmers. To this
end, the BPA has proposed paying farmers to leave their land fallow. Its
object ive is t o pay irrigators not to plant 67 000100 000 acres (27 11440 469 ha)
so as to avoid using the electricity required to pump the water from the Grand
Co ulee dam to the farmland (Environmental News Network, 2001a).
A nd in California, power managers saved energy an d avoided blackouts by
tem porarily stopping the use of pumps that transport water from n orthern
Califo rnia to the southern portions of the state (Coleman, 2000). According to a
2001 press release, Metropolitan Water District’s General Manager, Ronald
Gas telum, stated:
We already turn off some of our Colorado River Aqueduct pumps
wh en requested by the Southern California Edison Co., freeing up
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Water, Energ y and Environment Nexus 81
enough electricity for 100 000 Southern California homes. To provide
furt her assistance, particularly this summer, we stand ready to shut
do wn four additional aqueduct pumps for limited periods when re-
quest ed by the ISO [independent system operator] to help reduce the
need for rolling blackouts. Together, these reductions will amount to a
nearly 45% reduction in energy use along t he Colorado River.
Deregulation and Dam Management
A byproduct of deregulation is that competitive pressures affect how hydroelec-
tr ic dams are managed, which may have negative environmental consequences
(Schueller, 2001). Dam managers hav e economic incentives to hold water until
dem and peaks and electricity prices are high. This ability makes hydropower
particularly valuable in a deregulated market, but is also more destructive to
riv ers. Variations in the discharge from dams have a variety of negative
envir onmental consequences, including the destruction of benthic organisms
(tho se plants and animals that live at the bottom of rivers an d lakes and play an
impo rtant role in the water body’s ecosystem) and a reduction in diversity
(Baxt er, 1977).
The Energy Crisis and Environmental Regul ations
Ano ther issue raised by the state’s current situation is whether or not the energy
cr isis conditions warrant t he loosening of environmental restrictions. In Febru-
ary 2001, California lawmakers introduced legislation to exempt a hydroelectric
pro ject in the El Dorado Irrigation District from the requirements of state
envir onmental regulations. The text cited the importance and urgency of the
pro ject, given that California was experiencing energy shortages. Environmental
activists argued in respo nse that the energy crisis was mo re a ruse than a reason
and the real purpose of the project was not to generate electricit y, but rather to
pro vide additional water supplies for the region’s suburbs.
W hether or not the legislation is passed and whether the water from the
co mpleted project is used for power generation or for consumption, this exam ple
rais es some interesting questions. It brings up a long-standing debate between
tho se who argue that environmental considerations are more important than
eco nomic considerations and those who argue that the economy is more import-
ant than the environment.
For example, Governor Gray Davis issued executive order D-40-01 in January
2001 that allowed natural gas-red power plants to operate longer than per-
mit ted by local ai r quality districts, in order to avoid blackouts and “minimize
oper ation of backup diesel-red generators”. In this instance, the lawmaker was
co nfronted with a situation requiring the balancing of economic and environ-
ment al concerns. These situations force policy makers and the public to think
about difcult questions. Are economic gains worth the environmental conse-
quences? What are the economic consequences of damage to the environment?
The Energy Situation and Water Supplies
In the same way that transporting and processing water consume large amounts
of energy, the operation of power plants can consume large amounts of water.
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82 D. Lofma n et al.
To address the state’s energy shortage, numerous power plants are being
planned and built within California and all of them will require fresh water for
co oling. This raises the question: will the proposed solution to one problem
res ult in exacerbating another problem?
A n article on 25 June 2001 in the San Jose Mercury News notes that “in
Califo rnia, nearly half of the 28 major power plant projects in construction or
under review by the energy commission will tap into the state’s freshwater
supplies (Levey, 2001). For example, developers are working on ve power
plants in West Kern County, nea r Bakerseld. Water to this area is mostly
pro vided by the West Kern Water District, which consumes SWP water and
gro undwater. According to the California Energy Commission (2001) web site,
the proposed plants will have the following characteristics.
· Sunrise power plant will produce 320 MW of power and will receive most of
its wate r fro m an adjacent oileld operation and some water from the West
Kern Water District.
· Pastoria energy project will generate 750 MW of power and will receive water
from the SWP and from its groundwater storage facilities.
· Western Midway Sunset plant will produce 500 MW of power and will receive
w ater from the West Kern Water District.
· La Paloma plant will produce 1048 MW of power and will receive California
aqueduct water from the West Kern Water District.
· Elk Hills plant will produce 500 MW of power and will receive groundwater
from the West Kern Water District.
All together, these ve plants will produce more than 3000 MW of power and
will consume about 16 000 acre-feet (19 3 10
6
m
3
) of wat er each year .
A nother power plant recently approved by the California Energy Commission
is the High Desert power plant. This proposed plant, located in the Mojave
Desert in the city of Victorville, will produce 720 MW of power and will require
4000 acre-feet (4.9 3 10
6
m
3
) of fres h water. The project’s fact sheet on the
Califo rnia Energy Commission web site notes that cooling water will be ob-
tained either from groundwater or from the Mojave R iver pipeline project. The
Mo jave River pipeline project is part of the effort to remediate the overdraft of
the high desert. It was designed to bring water from the California aqueduct to
perco lation ponds in order to recharge the groundwate r basin (Mojave Water
Agenc y, 2001).
T here are alternatives to using fresh water, although they can be less efcient.
One option is to use treated sewe r water. The proposed Delta Energy Cen ter,
loc ated in Pittsburg, Contra Costa County, will use secondary-treat ed wastewa-
ter from Delta Diablo Sanitation District in its cooling towers. Also, some plants
are using a technology called dry cooling, which uses 95% less water than
co nventional systems (Levey, 2001).
Prices of W ater and Energy
Ano ther critical component of the interaction between energy and water is how
price reects (o r does not reect) the amount of energy required to move water
from the source t o the consumer. Bel ow are some examples of current water
rates from the Metropolitan Water District (MWD ), a consortium of 26 cities and
wat er districts that provides drinking water to nearly 17 million people in Lo s
Angeles and neighbouring counties. The MWD delivers an average o f 1. 7 3 10
9
Downloaded by [RAND Knowledge Services] at 14:51 28 July 2015
Water, Energ y and Environment Nexus 83
gallons (6.4 3 10
9
l) of water per day to a 5200 square mile (13 468 km
2
) service
area.
T he MWD’s basic service for treated water costs $431 per acre-foot (1233 m
3
),
wh ile the untreated basic s ervice costs $349 per acre-foot. The MWD’s agricul-
ture t reated water costs $294 per acre-foot and untreated agriculture water cost
$236 per acre-foot. In addition the MWD offers a $154 per acre-foot rebate to
busin esses that save w ater through upgrading systems. The c ost for desalination,
based on an estimated price of $2 per 1000 gallons (3785 l) of desalted water is
$652 per acre-foot (Orme, 2001).
Fr om an energy use perspective, it makes sense that treated water is more
expens ive than untreated water. However, does it make sense to price water
different ly based on the use? One r eason for the price differential is because
urban water systems are more complex than agricultural systems. Does this
difference fully account for the $137 less that agricultural users are charged? The
subs idization of agricult ure in California through reduced water rates is the
so urc e of much contention. Some argue that reduced rates for agricultural users
pro mote wasteful use. Others contend that agriculture is a vital part of the
Califo rnia economy, providing valuable tax dollars and numerous jobs.
Price and Conservation of Water and Energy
Ques tions about the structure of water pricing in California have led to the idea
that perhaps water markets should be developed to encourage the more efcient
use of water in the state:
Wat er markets balance supply with demand. Although water markets
do not create new supplies, they reallocate wat er to make more efcient
use of existing supplies, promote water conservation, and allow water
user s to get more out of their water supply than they otherwise could.
(Pacic Research, 2001)
Wat er markets have so far been used primarily in times of crisis. For example,
as a result of the drought that plagued southern California between 1987 and
1992, the DWR operated drought water banks in 1991 and 1992 which facilitated
the transfer of water rights from low-valued uses to high-valued uses. The
dro ught bank bought water from farmers who let their elds lie fallow or used
gro undwater instead of surface w ater and from areas in norther n Californ ia that
had excess water. During this emergency, water managers also used economic
incent ives to encourage responsible water use. During the drought, Santa
Barbara imposed penalty rates t o encourage conservation. Similarly, during the
cur rent energy crisis, electricity providers in California are offering their cus-
to mers discounts of 20% if they reduce t heir energy usage by 20%. This
incent ive, proposed by Governor Gray Davis, is designed to help the state avoid
ro lling blackouts.
Recommendations and Conclusion
As the California experience illustrates, the nexus between water, energy and the
envir onment is incredibly complex. Currently, t he state faces myriad challenges:
repairing the ener gy sys tem to meet demand at acceptable prices, and without
dim inishing air quality; maintaining a water delivery sys tem which is being
Downloaded by [RAND Knowledge Services] at 14:51 28 July 2015
84 D. Lofma n et al.
st retched as it provides both energy and water to agriculture, industry and
res idents in the face of climate change and decreasing rainfall; and providing the
res ources needed to protect the environment. California is not alone in its
difculties in managing water and energy; the situation of increasing deman d
and changing priorities is apparent thr oughout the globe.
A s a case study, California provides an opportunity to begin to understand
and discuss the issues and pos sible solutions of the water–energy nexus: both
less ons and solutions can be drawn from this diverse, dynamic state.
· Recognize that the cost of water and energy and education regarding their use
c an dramatically affect water and energy consumption.
· Investigate different options for using water markets and pricing of water and
ener gy to make the costs of the use of these resources more apparent (to
int ernalize current ext ernal costs).
· Encourage the continued development and increasing use of technological
inn ovations in water, energy efciency and renewabl e energy.
· Develop participatory and multi-stakeholder processes tha t lead to the devel-
o pment of better water and energy management practices within local com-
m unities and between states and nations.
· Introduce into water management the concept that water can be used for
d ifferent purposes (energy, environment and agriculture, etc.) by different
s takeholders at different times.
· Be mindful that policy actions intended to improve the supply or use of one
r esource can negatively impact the management/supply of other resources
(e.g. building more po wer plants to increase the energy supply could dramat-
ic ally increase the demand for water).
The ultimate task is to act responsibly in the face of the growing demand for
wat er and energy, and the associated global environmental problems of climate
change and diminishing freshwater resources. The way water and energy are
used today, and the innovative techniques that are devised to improve efciency
in the future, wil l play a major role in preserving the health of the planet and
impr oving the lives of it s people.
References
ACWA (January 2001) ACWA’s Energy Action Plan.
Ameriscan (2001) California Water Agencies to Pump with Renewable Power, 1 February (http: / /
ens.lycos.com/ens/feb2001/2001L-02-01-09.html).
Anderson, C. (1999) Energy Use in the Supply, Use and Disposal of Water in California (California,
Process Energy Group, Energy Efciency Division, C alifornia Energy Commission).
Baxter, R.M. (1977) Environmental effects of dams and impoundments, Annual Review of Ecology and
Systematics, 8, pp. 255–283.
BPA (2001a) Bonneville Power: Who We Are (http://www.bpa.gov/Corporate/KC/who/whow-
erx.shtml).
BPA (2001b) BPAs tight energy supply and the plan to manage through it, 12 January
(www.bpa.gov).
BPA (2001c) Cold weather spur s energy consumption ; more power needed from Columbia River
dams, News Release, 13 February.
BPA (2001d) Federal agencies spill water to help migrating sh, call for conservation, News Release,
9 March.
Business Wire (2001) Southland business and industry saving money, water and power through
metropolitan conservation program, 20 April.
California Energy Commission (2001) (www.energy.ca.gov).
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Water, Energ y and Environment Nexus 85
California Independent System Operator (2001) CAISO 2001 Summer Assessment, 22 March (http://
www.caiso.com/docs/09003a6080/0c/af/09003a60800cafcd.pdf).
Cen tral Valley Project General Overview (2001) (http://dataweb.usbr.gov/html/cvp.html).
Coleman, J. (2000) At brink of blackouts, California taps power from huge pumps, Associated Press, 8
December (www.newstimes.com).
Department of Water Resources State Water Project Overview (2001) (http://www.dwr.
water.ca.gov/dir-state_water_projectR2/default.html).
Environm ental News Network (2001a) Dry Times ahead with Power at a Premium, BPA Wants to Pay
Farmers to Not Plant Fields This Spring, 15 March (www.enn.com).
Environm ental News Network (2001b) Hydro Generation Dropped Precipitously in 2000, 9 May
(www.enn.com).
Fred erick, K.D. & Gleick, P.H. (1999) Water and Global Climate Change: Potential Impacts on US Water
Resources (Pew Center on Global Climate Change) (http://www. pewclimate.org/projects/
clim_change.pdf).
Giblin, P. (2001) Sierra’s snowpack below average, Modesto Bee Online, 4 April (www.modbee.com).
Governor ’s Advisory Drought Planning Panel (2000) Critical Water Shortage Contingency Plan, 29
December (http://watersupplyconditions.water.ca.gov/pdf/Contingency_Plan-text.pdf).
Governor of the Stat e of California Executive Order D-40–01 by the Governor of the State of California
(http://www.governor.ca.gov/state/govsite/gov /20010612 d 40 01.html&sTitle
5
Executive
1
Or der
1
D-40–01&iOID
5
1536).
Higg ins, M. (2001) Energy Crisis Affects Snake River Dam Proposal, Environmental News Network, 16
January (www.enn.com).
Knickerbo cker, B. (2001) Northwest’s cheap power comes under re, Christian Science Monitor Online,
14 February (www.csmonitor.com/durable/2001/02/14/p3s1.htm).
Levey, N . (2001) Power plants a threat to water, San Jose Mercu ry News, 25 June
(www0.mercurycent.com/cgi-bin/edtools/printpage/printpate ba.cgi).
Metropolitan Water District (2001) Metropolitan Power Agreement with California ISO to help ease
electrical crisis this summer, Business Wire, 9 May.
Mojave Water Agency (2001) (http://www.mojavewater.org/Mwq500.htm#Mojave).
Orme, W.A. (2001) Israel raises its glass to desalination, New York Times, 23 June.
Pacic Research (2001) Ending Californias Water Crisis: a Market Solution to the Politics of Wate r,
Executive Summary (www.pacicresearch.org).
Perlman, D. (2001) Global warming to affect water supply; more rainfal l means smaller Sierra
snowpack, San Francisco Chronicle, 15 June (www.sfgate.com/cgi bin/article.cgi?le
5
/chronicle/
archive/2001/06/15/MN167979.DTL).
Reisner, M. (2000) Unleash the rivers, Time, April–May, pp. 67–71.
Rog ers, P. (2001) Low snowfall portends possible summer water crisis for California, San Jose
Mercury News, 6 February (www.enn.com).
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January (www.enn.com).
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tro.h tm).
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(www.damsreport.org/contents.htm).
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... Meanwhile, the water-energy nexus that is so prevalent today might have originated in the mid-1990s and early 2000s (Scott et al., 2015), as evidenced by some earlier works including those of Sant and Dixit (1996) and Malik (2002) (Fig. 1). During this period, the introduction of "water" as an important component of a human-environment nexus prompted the formulation of other water-related nexuses, including the water-food-trade nexus (McCalla, 1997), water-energy-environment nexus (Lofman et al., 2002) and energy-irrigation nexus (Shah et al., 2003). Although the food-water nexus did not receive particular attention during this period, the emergence of the food-energy and water-energy nexuses indicates that the food, energy and water resource sectors were receiving attention decades back. ...
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Rain garden (RG) is a simple alternative to reduce pollutant loads carried through runoff. However, RG construction impacts the environment, where it demands evidence of net benefits generated once commissioned for operation. This study has simulated the reduction of runoff and pollutant loads due to the installation of RGs. Consequently, the reduction of the impacts on the environment was estimated using the LCA method. A comparison was carried out between the scenarios with and without RG with the most feasible (environmentally) rainwater harvesting (RWH) system. Three RG sizes are considered, such as 3, 4, and 6 m² in dry, average, and wet annual rainfall conditions. The catchment-scale results showed that the runoff generation impacts of the RGs' operation phase were about (24–54%), (21–49%), (21–47%), and (14–45%) of the system without RG on eutrophication, human toxicity-carcinogenic, ecotoxicity-freshwater, and ecotoxicity-marine, respectively. However, once fabrication & installation were added, RG had much higher net impacts than without RG, except for eutrophication and ecotoxicity-freshwater. Hence, the net ecotoxicity-freshwater impact was lower for all scenarios except 4 and 6 m² RG sizes during dry rainfall conditions. The most feasible RWH scenarios (e.g., 2000 & 3000 L tanks) had net impacts of 3–81% of the RG systems on global warming, human toxicity-carcinogenic, and ecotoxicity-terrestrial categories. On the other hand, RWH had net impacts of 105–200% on ozone depletion and eutrophication and 51–119% on the ecotoxicity-freshwater and ecotoxicity-marine of the RG systems.
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The concept of water-energy nexus has gained global attention since the 2011 Bonn conference in Germany. Water-energy nexus thinking is critical because it supports various life forms on Earth, and its understanding can help in achieving sustainable development goals. In the present day, water and energy are closely intertwined, support and depend on each other for sustainable development in agriculture, urban settings and the industrial sector. Although the water-energy nexus still faces challenges of universal understanding, its adoption within the scientific community has been impressive over the past decades. Over 120 studies were reviewed in line with their aims, scopes, methods and limitations. About 23 case studies were summarized according to their title, objectives and major conclusions, while 21 case studies were cross-examined based on water-energy nexus studies within the urban systems. Models and methods use in water-energy nexus research were also reviewed with emphasis on their strength and weaknesses. The undisputable challenge within the water-energy nexus approach was found to be understanding, as concluded by almost all literature reviewed. Understanding the nexus approach and patterns is a huge limitation for the targeted audience, especially decision and policymakers. Bridging this knowledge gap between water-energy nexus scholars and decision or policymakers could lead to a significant breakthrough in the nexus arena. Another challenge faced by the water-energy nexus approach is the fact that though there are many methods currently employed, yet there is no single agreed or universally acceptable framework that could be used for the water-energy nexus studies globally. For a better understanding of the nexus thinking, more work in relation to understanding, framework and methods needs to be done in the water-energy nexus domain using a holistic approach. It is recommended that further analysis of the interlink ages of water-energy nexus can help mitigate the problem of understanding the system and hence support the sustainable development goals drive.
ACWA's Energy Action Plan Ameriscan (2001) California Water Agencies to Pump with Renewable Power
  • Acwa
References ACWA (January 2001) ACWA's Energy Action Plan. Ameriscan (2001) California Water Agencies to Pump with Renewable Power, 1 February (http:// ens.lycos.com/ens/feb2001/2001L-02-01-09.html).
Energy Use in the Supply, Use and Disposal of Water in California (California
  • C Anderson
Anderson, C. (1999) Energy Use in the Supply, Use and Disposal of Water in California (California, Process Energy Group, Energy Ef ciency Division, California Energy Commission).
At brink of blackouts, California taps power from huge pumps
  • J Coleman
Coleman, J. (2000) At brink of blackouts, California taps power from huge pumps, Associated Press, 8 December (www.newstimes.com).
Sierra's snowpack below average
  • P Giblin
Giblin, P. (2001) Sierra's snowpack below average, Modesto Bee Online, 4 April (www.modbee.com).
Energy Crisis Affects Snake River Dam Proposal, Environmental News Network
  • M Higgins
Higgins, M. (2001) Energy Crisis Affects Snake River Dam Proposal, Environmental News Network, 16 January (www.enn.com).
Northwest's cheap power comes under re
  • B Knickerbocker
Knickerbocker, B. (2001) Northwest's cheap power comes under re, Christian Science Monitor Online, 14 February (www.csmonitor.com/durable/2001/02/14/p3s1.htm).
Power plants a threat to water
  • N Levey
Levey, N. (2001) Power plants a threat to water, San Jose Mercury News, 25 June (www0.mercurycent.com/cgi-bin/edtools/printpage/printpate ba.cgi).
Metropolitan Power Agreement with California ISO to help ease electrical crisis this summer
  • Metropolitan Water District
Metropolitan Water District (2001) Metropolitan Power Agreement with California ISO to help ease electrical crisis this summer, Business Wire, 9 May.