Friday, July 16, 2010

Protecting the lifeline of the American west

Western Resource Advocates (US): Water is the lifeline of the West, and is essential to sustaining our people, economy, rivers, and wildlife. But climate change threatens the West’s already tight water supplies, and will exacerbate the challenge of meeting urban, agricultural, and environmental water needs. …A new report by Western Resource Advocates and Environmental Defense Fund, "Protecting the Lifeline of the West: How Climate and Energy Policies Can Safeguard Water", illustrates why legislation is needed to curtail the risk unmitigated climate change poses to western water supplies and highlights the inextricable links between energy and water in the region.
  • In the West, climate and energy policy is water policy. Our western economy has developed around a very scarce water supply….
  • We are in the midst of severe drought in the Colorado River basin, which supplies drinking water to 30 million people and millions of acres of farmland. Scientists project that droughts will be longer and more intense as climate change progresses. … In the search for new sources of water, cities and water users are developing more and more energy-intensive water supplies to move water great distances.
The Solution
  • Transitioning to cleaner, renewable sources of energy both protects the region from harmful climate change, and could free up additional sources of water for cities, farms, and rivers. Energy efficiency, and renewables like wind, solar photovoltaic, and geothermal power can meet energy demands, are affordable, and use no freshwater. Every western state has expansive renewable energy resources.
  • Climate legislation would encourage smart water supply planning. Cities or utilities in nearly every western state has proposed building at least one expensive and energy-intensive pipeline to meet growing water needs. These new pipelines would have a large carbon footprint. In contrast, alternative water supply strategies like water conservation, water reuse, and creative leasing arrangements would minimize greenhouse gas emissions and the impacts to the environment….

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