When You Turn On Your Electric Hair Dryer, You’re Burning WaterA report by River Network reveals that thermoelectric energy (including coal, nuclear and natural gas) is the fastest growing use of freshwater resources in the country. The report, Burning Our Rivers: The Water Footprint of Electricity,says that for every gallon of water used in an average household, five times more water (40,000 gallons each month) is used to provide that home with electricity via hydropower turbines and fossil fuel power sources. That means every time we flip on the television or crank up the air conditioning, it sends more potable water down the drain.Although coal, nuclear power, and natural gas have been praised as the “cheapest” ways to produce electricity, this assessment does not take water use and consumption into account. The report found that a single MWh of electricity generated by coal withdraws approximately 16,052 gallons of water from the environment and consumes approximately 692 gallons of water.Nuclear power withdraws approximately 14,881 gallons and consumes 572 gallons of water per MWhOn average, while natural gas withdraws approximately 6,484 gallons and consumes approximately 172 gallons of water per MWh of electricity produced.
These figures do not include water that is wasted by contaminating drinking water supplies.
According to an excellent article by Beth Buczynski:
Fossil fuels are as archaic as the rock from which they’re pried. It’s time to enter the 21st century of energy production. It’s time to acknowledge that coal, gas, and nuclear power will not be able to meet the needs of future generations. It’s time to start rebuilding an electrical infrastructure that takes into account its impact on surrounding systems, including water and wildlife. Only then will we be able to ensure a clean, healthy, well-hydrated future for our children.