25 July 2012

Prolonged drought threatens our electricity !

Not a relationship that is a priori obvious, but here are excerpts from a New York Times article:
We're now in the midst of the nation’s most widespread drought in 60 years, stretching across 29 states and threatening farmers, their crops and livestock. But there is another risk as water becomes more scarce. Power plants may be forced to shut down, and oil and gas production may be threatened

Our energy system depends on water. About half of the nation’s water withdrawals every day are just for cooling power plants. In addition, the oil and gas industries use tens of millions of gallons a day, injecting water into aging oil fields to improve production, and to free natural gas in shale formations through hydraulic fracturing. Those numbers are not large from a national perspective, but they can be significant locally. 

All told, we withdraw more water for the energy sector than for agriculture. Unfortunately, this relationship means that water problems become energy problems that are serious enough to warrant high-level attention.  
The map comes from The Drought Monitor;  I've embedded a static image, but the one at the source is interactive and allows you to zoom to regional, state, and local conditions.


  1. This brought to mind a book I read in my early teens about a girl and her younger brother in some dystopian future where everything is dry, and they go searching for a waterfall on a postcard their parents left them, but when they get there, it's just a little trickle. I am hoping one of your readers knows what book I'm talking about and can refresh my memory on its title.

    1. I think you've stumped everybody...

    2. Mama Bean, I reposted your question, and I think someone found the answer:



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