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Turning on the lights, driving to work, surfing the Web—energy is inextricably linked to water. With the greater need for energy, the demand for water will continue to increase. How can we balance the need for water in energy with water for crops, households, and factories? How can we make do with the water we have?

The Energy & Environmental Research Center’s (EERC’s) half-hour documentary “Water: The Lifeblood of Energy” describes the connection between water and energy and documents how clients and utilities across the western United States are collaborating, conserving, and utilizing new technology to squeeze more use out of every precious drop.

Energy and water are inseparable issues,” said Executive Producer and EERC Senior Research Manager, Bethany Kurz. “Energy generation requires water, and the treatment and distribution of water for commercial, industrial, and household uses requires energy. Similarly, irrigated agriculture requires energy to pump water to crops. As the population expands, there is an increasing demand for both energy and water which necessitates innovative strategies to conserve and supply these resources.”

Kurz added, “With the vibrant oil and gas, agricultural, and utility interests in the region, practical  water reuse synergies among these different industries is already occurring and should continue to be explored.”

Quick Facts

  • Energy and water demand are intimately linked.
  • Approximately 25 gallons of water is needed (primarily for steam cooling) to produce 1 kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity, but only 2 gallons is lost in the process through evaporation.
  • According to the International Water Management institute, overall global energy use is expected to increase nearly 50% from 2007 to 2035.
  • Electricity production is projected to increase to over 5200 billion kWh by the year 2025.
  • By 2045, the world population will increase to 9 billion people, and water withdrawals are expected to increase by 50%.

“Water: The Lifeblood of Energy” was produced by Prairie Public Broadcasting in partnership with the EERC, the U.S. Department of Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory, and key stakeholders representing power generation utilities, oil and gas companies, industry, municipalities, and other entities interested in addressing critical water issues in the north-central United States.

To learn more about the water–energy nexus and innovative options for water treatment, reuse, and conservation, visit the EERC’s water management Web site at