Improving water efficiency can help slow the climate crisis

Water use is an energy and climate issue in California. Roughly one-fifth of the electricity consumed in the state is related to water use. The same ratio, about 20 percent, of California’s electrical power is generated by hydroelectric facilities. 

Reducing energy demand — and the need for polluting fossil fuels is part of the suite of solutions needed to help drive the clean energy transition forward. Better water management can play a key role in this effort. 

It takes a lot of energy to collect, deliver, treat, and heat water. The state water project, for example, is the single largest user of electricity in California, pumping water more than 700 miles through a battered canal system that runs through the Central Valley. The farther water travels under direct sun exposure, the more water is lost to evaporation. The project is a perfect illustration of the need for communities to develop less energy-intensive, local water resilience through greater efficiency, stormwater and rain capture, reuse, and recycling.