“Energy/Water Nexus” is more than just industry hype!
Water infrastructure is one of the most essential public services in any city. It is also the most intrinsically linked to the core of the energy system. Over the last few years the phrase “Energy/Water Nexus” has become the topic of conference panels, webinars, articles and debates. The water/energy nexus is the idiom used to describe the interaction and interdependencies between water and energy.
In assisting water utilities to become more efficient, electric utilities can play a leading role in improving sustainability outside of the traditional power system. Electric and water utilities have shared advanced technologies and integrated parallel paths toward improved electric and water infrastructure. Increasing interest and attention is being directed at the relationship between water and energy resources in the United States and around the globe. Today we are trying to understand the dependencies, synergies, conflicts, and trade-offs between these two critical resources.
Water is required extensively in the energy sector for developing, refining and using the electricity, gas, and petroleum we need. On the other hand, significant energy is required to capture, convey, treat, and use the water that supports our society and its health. Relationships between these two precious resources go beyond simply the demand of one resource on the other, and includes many shared challenges that offer opportunities for collaboration. These challenges include:
Growing demands from increases in population and changes in land uses
Aging infrastructure that impacts reliability and dependability of services
Fractured regulatory authorities and jurisdictions with differing goals and objectives
New policies that require more investment
Increased consumer demands
Regulations for environmental protection
Long-term resource uncertainty and scarcity
In order to truly benefit from the Energy/Water Nexus cities and countries around the world will need collaborative and integrated work, the removal of barriers, and help from consumers and industry alike. Organizations like the Alliance for Water Efficiency and ACEEE are working with the EPA, local and federal agencies to address these challenges, but consumer engagement will be a key to success