Energy and Water

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  10 Feb 1978:
Vol. 199, Issue 4329, pp. 623-634
DOI: 10.1126/science.199.4329.623


The geographic and temporal variability of freshwater supply in the United States constrains the choice and level of use of future energy sources. Ecological criteria for acceptable freshwater consumption, together with hydrological data on stream flow, provide a framework for estimating these constraints. The water consumption requirements for a variety of energy options are presented, and comparative judgments drawn. Attention is focused on problems resulting from synthetic, gaseous, and liquid fuel production. Scenarios describing possible future levels of coal and electricity use are analyzed. They point to the importance of water supply constraints in both the eastern and western United States.