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Down the Drain

On Saturday, I tweeted an interesting stat about the amount of energy used to move and treat water in California:

Wow. CA uses almost 1/5th of it’s electricity to move water around #energy #water

The stat came from a peer’s presentation about her research on the linkage between energy and water. Several folks wanted to know a little bit more, so I tracked down the statistic to a report from the California Energy Commission report (PDF). The full statistic is that California uses 19 percent of its electricity to treat and transport water into and around California.

Not only is electricity is used to move and treat water, but water is used to cool the power plants that produce the electricity to treat and move the water. Yikes!

Last year, I flew into San Diego from Austin for the AAAS Annual Conference. As the plane neared San Diego, the desert landscape transformed into green lawns and golf courses – the result of a lot of water and electricity for a region that has neither to spare. Don’t worry, we Texans aren’t any better about it.

As with other things we waste (food, plastic bags, etc.), water is too cheap. As a result, we end up flushing a lot of water and electricity down the drain.


Water waste is one of my pet peeves. Especially automatic sprinkler systems and the lack of control and maintenance of these systems. Sprinkler heads that just water concrete or are broken and look like Old Faithful. And the ultimate….water the grass while it’s raining! I think it should be against the law to install a system without a water sensor or ground saturation sensor. In addition, most of those systems are set to water too often or too long.

Posted by Shook on 24 January 2011 @ 5pm

In regards to water and electricity, my USC alternative energy professor simply said, “Los Angeles was a mistake”.

And I definitely agree with Shook when it comes to sprinklers. Not only do our neighbors run the sprinklers daily, rain or not (keep in mind these are condo “yards”, tiny strips of land), we have a communal water bill. Our neighbor’s response to our water concern is “we silly humans sometimes forget”.

Posted by Madhur on 31 January 2011 @ 12pm

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