Friday, June 06, 2008

Water use for electricity exports

About one-third of the water used in Arizona to generate electricity is used for electricity sent out of state.

A study by Mike Pasqualetti, a professor of Geography at ASU, reported by the Arizona Water Institute newsletter, has found that 150,350 acre-feet (AF) was used in 2007 to generate electricity in , while only 98,732 AF were consumed to generate energy used in Arizona.

The amount of water embedded in our electricity exports can be seen in the diagram above.


Dr. Pasqualetti also found that about 22,000 acre-feet of water are also embedded in electricity that Arizona imports from Colorado and New Mexico.

Some reading this are going to immediately think that we should stop producing electricity that is sent out of state because it uses water. But we can look at energy production like any other item produced and exported. Most of what we produce here requires water in one or another. Three of the five "C"s in Arizona, Cotton, Citrus, and Copper, all are big water users and and also big exports. Even something that doesn't necessarily take a lot of water directly, like Raytheon's aerospace manufacturing, requires a huge workforce who boost the population and need water for their daily living.

There are huge challenges in trying to create a sustainable water economy in Arizona, but we have to be cognizant of how we use water everywhere. If we are opposed to using Arizona water being used to generate electricity that goes to California, are we equally opposed to watering citrus and pecan groves that feed those same people?

We have some serious conversations about water ahead of us in this state and elsewhere.

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