Lisa Epifani on the necessary trade-off between energy and water

Lisa Epifani: Some of our choices to move away from foreign oil mean using more domestic water, and I think it’s those trade-offs that have to be examined more thoroughly.

Lisa Epifani is Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs with the Department of Energy. Epifani spoke of what she called the ‘energy-water nexus’, how you need water to produce energy.

Lisa Epifani: I think it’s very important to know that right now, energy and water relationships are very well understood on the local and state government level. There’s an increasing awareness on the national level.

Nearly 40 percent of all freshwater withdrawn in the US goes to produce electricity at thermoelectric power plants, for instance, to spin turbines with steam. A shift to crop-based biofuels and hybrid cars could drive an even higher demand for water.

Lisa Epifani: Water is very complicated. It’s not just an energy issue. It relates to agricultural needs, residential needs, commercial and industrial needs.

Epifani said the 2007 drought in the southeastern U.S. left many thirsty for more water.

Lisa Epifani: You saw power plants really struggling, nuclear power plants, saying we need more access to water, and contingency plans being developed among the local, state, and federal planners on what to do in those events. It’s a relationship that needs further improvement, but it’s going in the right direction.

The U.S. Geological Survey, said Epifani, has proposed the first nationwide census for water in over 30 years, which could complete by 2019.

Our thanks to:
Lisa E. Epifani
Assistant Secretary
Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs
United States Department of Energy

Eric J. Evenson, Coordinator
Water for America Initiative
Water Resources Discipline
U.S. Geological Survey
West Trenton, NJ

Photo Credit: bilwander_ing Himalayan lands

June 16, 2009

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