Sunday, February 15, 2009

Saving power by saving water -- win/win for California

LA Aqueduct Cascades
Originally uploaded by Aquafornia.
There's a double whammy of fortune for folks who want to save electricity and water in California -- Peter Gleck, of the Pacific Institute, a global water research center, says that here in California, we can save electricity by conserving water.

We spend so much electricity shipping it around the state and drawing it up from the ground that using less will save power.

From WorldChanging at The Guardian:
The virtues of water efficiency can be found in California and China - regions where water shortages have become emergencies and droughts may worsen with climate change. Conditions may become more severe in the future as consumers turn to water solutions that often require even greater energy supplies.

In California, where drought is afflicting the land for the third year in a row, the state is reducing water deliveries by 20-30 percent this winter and warns of "the most significant water crisis in its history." The water shortages are forcing farmers to cut production and lay off employees in an already sour economy.

Meanwhile, water transportation, storage, and treatment account for about 19 percent of the state's electricity, according to a 2007 California Energy Commission report [PDF]. To reach the rapidly expanding urban clusters in southern California, for instance, water is pumped 2,000 feet (610 meters) over the Tehachapi Mountains north of Los Angeles.

Mind you, hydroelectric dams create electricity -- but that won't be reduced as we use less. And as the Sierra snowpack melts away with climate change, we will likely lose most of that reservoir, the snow itself, and have to find more ways to store water in our (ostensibly) wet winters to have enough to last us through our dry, dry summers. We'll either have to build a lot more dams, or find other ways to get (and save) water, and to generate power.

California's population is burgeoning, as well. We will, as a whole, want more water, not less, in future years -- and more power. By cutting back now -- growing dry-climate and native gardens, using landscaping water to grow our own climate-adapted food rather than lawns and privet hedges, moving California's crops into areas better suited for them, controlling water use in new developments, and other water conservation measures -- we can use less of the inevitable additional water, rather than more.

(Photo from Aquifornia)


winegarner said...

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (our water agency) is building a recycled-water system that will, among other things, use recycled water to irrigate the big public parks west of Van Ness -- a long-overdue idea, but a good one nonetheless. It could mean that we'd be piping less water -- several million gallons per year less -- from Hetch Hetchy when it's finished. I've written a little about this project:

BeWaterWise Rep said...

As you pointed out, Southern California has been facing the problem of water shortage for the past few years. The water reserve levels of the region has dipped significantly since July 2006. If we need to combat this shortage, Southern Californians have to collectively change their actions.There are dozens of little things we can all do to save water. If you go to you will see a water saving tips page that lists Indoor and Outdoor tips and how much water is saved with each one. Things like taking shorter showers saves 5 gallons a day, and installing a smart sprinkler controller saves 40 gallons per day! Check out all the tips on the site and pass it on to fellow Southern Californians!