Freshwater use by U.S power plants: Electricity’s thirst for a precious resource
Energy and Water in a Warming World Initiative, Union of Concerned Scientists, 2011.
Across the world the water demand from coal power plants is combining with pressure from growing populations and other needs and straining water resources, especially during heat waves and droughts. This report of the Energy and Water in a Warming World Initiative is the first systematic assessment of both the effects of power plant cooling on water resources across the United States and the quality of information available to help public and private sector decision-makers make water smart energy choices. The report found that every day in 2008, on average water-cooled thermoelectric power plants in the United States withdrew 60 billion to 170 billion gallons of freshwater from rivers, streams, lakes and aquifers and consumed 2.8 billion to 5.9 billion gallons of that water. Power plants across the United States contribute to water-supply stress, and more up-to-date, accurate data on power plant water demand is needed in order to be able to make water-smart energy choices.