Water and Energy: Competing Priorities or Good Partners

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.

Class Recordings:

Class 1 - March 30

Class 2 - April 6

Class 3 - April 13


Group Leader: JOHN SALO
Meets on: Tuesdays 10:00 am to noon
Starting: 3/30/2021
Sessions: 6
Class Size: 24
Teaching Style: Lecture and discussion
Weekly Preparation: None
Group Leader Biography:

John Salo has had a 45 year career in water resources engineering. He has a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Tufts University and an M.S. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Michigan and is a registered engineer. He spent most of his career with a national environmental engineering firm where he worked with public utilities throughout the United States to find cost-effective solutions to their water management challenges. He has been a national leader on water regulatory, policy and legislative issues and has written numerous articles on watershed planning and utility efficiency including energy management.