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When I respond, or seek responses, I think of the Internet Republic and the people [[whump]] and the places who have made our water world Eden brave and free and fair. Permitted, required, and impossible. Stand alone or stand with, whose choice to what degree [[Thn/]] O[[thn/]]ne water world Eden under "We the people" – created by whom?

1% of all water on earth is fresh water

Population growth will mean over 100 million more people in the United States over the next four decades who will need energy and water to survive and prosper. Economic growth compounds that trend, as per-capita energy and water consumption tend to increase with affluence. Climate-change models also suggest that droughts and heat waves may be more frequent and severe.

Thankfully, there are some solutions.

The government can collect, maintain and make available accurate, updated and comprehensive water data, possibly through the United States Geological Survey and the E.I.A. The E.I.A. maintains an extensive database of accurate, up-to-date and comprehensive information on energy production, consumption, trade and price. Unfortunately, there is no equivalent set of data for water. Consequently, industry, investors, analysts, policy makers and planners lack the information they need to make informed decisions about power plant siting or cooling technologies.

The government should also invest in water-related research and development (spending has been pitifully low for decades) to seek better air-cooling systems for power plants, waterless techniques for hydraulic fracturing, and biofuels that do not require freshwater irrigation.

We should encourage the use of reclaimed water for irrigation, industry and the cooling of equipment at industrial operations like smelters and petrochemical complexes. These steps typically spare a significant amount of energy and cost. The use of dry and hybrid wet-dry cooling towers that require less water should be encouraged at power plants, since not all of them need wet cooling all the time. As power plants upgrade their cooling methods to ones that are less water-intensive, these operations can save significant volumes of water.

Most important, conservation should be encouraged, since water conservation results in energy conservation, and vice versa.

New carbon emissions standards can also help save water. A plan proposed by the Obama administration (requiring new power plants to emit no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour generated) would encourage utilities to choose less carbon- and water-intensive fuels. Conventional coal plants, which are very thirsty, exceed the standards proposed by the president. But relatively clean, and water-lean, power plants that use wind, solar panels and natural gas combined cycle, would meet them. Thus, by enforcing CO2 limits, a lot of water use can be avoided.

Because rivers and aquifers can span many states (or countries), because there is no alternative to water, and because water represents a critical vulnerability for our energy system, governments at all levels have a stake in working with industry to find solutions. The downsides of doing nothing — more blackouts — are too serious to ignore.

Michael E. Webber is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and the associate director of the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy at the University of Texas, Austin.

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