Water and energy systems are interdependent. Current trends including climate change, population growth, water scarcity, and changes in technology are increasing the urgency to address the water energy nexus in an integrated and proactive way. This class will examine water and energy from the perspective of past, present and future practices.
America has over 250,000 rivers covering more than 3 million miles. We will examine how these waters served to be the foundation of the growth and development of America by providing navigation, power, drinking water, and wastewater disposal over the centuries. We will also look at how the competing forces of water management and energy generation nearly destroyed the ecology of the Rhine River in Germany. We will also examine how to balance water use, energy generation, and food production today using the examples of:
- Prime agricultural land in the Central Valley of California, which is suffering from water shortages, being converted to solar farms.
- Reuse of highly treated wastewater to extend drinking water supplies and lower energy demands.
- Desalination. Is it too energy intensive to be a viable water supply source?
Lastly, we will discuss carbon and water footprints as potentially useful future approaches to holistically assess energy and water production and use, and we will examine what is being done to integrate water and energy policies so both of these limited resources can be efficiently used.