How much water does it take to keep the lights on?

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Do you know how much water it takes to keep the lights on at your house?

If that sounds like a strange question, the Union of Concerned Scientists says it’s one worth asking .

A new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists highlights increasing friction between competing demands for water and electricity.

“Our new report is really about choices and helping people understand we’re at a really unique time in the power sector in terms of how quickly things are changing, how quickly things can be changing and we’re seeing that change happen,” said John H. Rogers with the Union of Concerned Scientists. “So we’re making choices now that are going to have to serve us for the next 30, 40, 50 years. What we want people to understand is what the water implications of those choices are.”

Their report shows it takes much more water to generate the electricity needed to light an average home and run its appliances- than the household uses in a day.

“Several times more than what they consume in showering and watering and drinking each day,” said Sandra S. Sattler, Ph. D. “One of the key places that those collisions happen are here in the Southeast — key place for the collisions as well as a key place for opportunities for change to adopt new measures like energy efficiency renewable energy.”

A spokesperson for Alabama Power agrees water is vital to its operations, but when it comes to the risk s of running out versus changing tracks, they’re not ready to go full steam ahead with alternative sources of energy.

“We as a company are very open to new sources of generation of all types renewable as you may know we do have a power purchase agreements with wind generation outside of the state, but we’re also very concerned with what the cost impacts and reliability impacts of that may be,” said Brandon Glover of Alabama Power.

“Water’s important to steam generation you know 50% of water withdrawn across this region is for steam generation and that’s a nationwide statistic as well. But 95% of that water withdrawn actually goes back into the waters that it comes out of.

“We are very focused on water you know not just Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Mississippi Power, Florida, Gulf Power, you know we, we are all focused on what the needs are out there and the availability of water.”

To read more about the UCN report click here: http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/our-energy-choices/energy-and-water-use/water-smart-power.html

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