Is using less water the secret to cutting our greenhouse gas emissions?

When most of us think of slowing global warming, we think of reducing car exhaust and power plant emissions – limiting activities that involve combusting fossil fuels. But we rarely draw the connection between the production of energy and another important resource: water. Yet in California, 20% of the state’s electricity and 30% of the natural gas that isn’t used by power plants goes to the water system – from pumping it for delivery to disposing of wastewater. Could saving water play a significant role in addressing climate change? And, if so, could we achieve these savings without incurring significant costs? A bill just signed by governor Jerry Brown will pave the way to answer those key questions. The Water-Energy Nexus Registry bill, or SB 1425, establishes a voluntary registry of greenhouse gas emissions for water utilities to account for the emissions generated from their energy use. It’s a radical departure of how California has been addressing climate change. In effect, SB 1425 moves the focus from fossil fuels to water.

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