Water and Energy

302xWWDlogoThe United Nations has declared today World Water Day.  The theme this year is water and energy.  There are obvious connections, such as that hydropower supplies 20% of the world’s electricity.  But here’s an interesting thing you may not have known:  8% of global energy generation is used for pumping, treating and transporting water.

The UN is not alone in promoting World Water Day and the urgent message that we can’t do without this essential resource – this essential component of life – and we can and must do much better in managing it.  WaterAid, for instance, is a highly effective, global NGO with over 30 years experience bringing water to under-served communities.

The venerable WorldWatch Institute says:  “Water scarcity may be the most underappreciated global environmental challenge of our time. In the Middle East, China, India, and the United States, groundwater is being pumped faster than it is being replenished, and rivers such as the Colorado and Yellow River no longer reach the sea year round. Over the next quarter century, the number of people in countries unable to meet their domestic, industrial, and agricultural water needs is expected to balloon substantially.”

One of the most prosperous and progressive places in the world, California, has been feeling the ravages of a prolonged drought.  There are a number of reasons for this, some natural and some not.  The bottom line for the scores of millions of Californians, not to mention the vital agricultural production they send around the rest of the US and the world, is that water needs to be managed better than it has.  That is true for much of American West too.  Organizations like the Environmental Defense Fund and the Pacific Institute have been working hard to save the Colorado River and the millions who depend on it.

The World Bank and the other MLDBs know that water is a paramount concern.  The US Agency for International Development and the other development agencies understand how critical water is and how proper sanitation is a key element to clean water.

The World Water Development Report 2014, Water and Energy, was issued yesterday in Tokyo.   It is “…the UN’s flagship report on water. It is a comprehensive review that gives an overall picture of the state of the world’s freshwater resources and aims to provide decision makers with the tools to implement sustainable use of our water.”  We are all, as far as I’m concerned, decision makers and need to understand what’s at stake.

The key messages from the UN this year for World Water Day are that:

  • Water requires energy and energy requires water
  • Supplies are limited and demand is increasing
  • Saving energy is saving water. Saving water is saving energy
  • The “bottom billion” urgently needs access to both water and sanitation services, and electricity
  • Improving water and energy efficiency is imperative as are coordinated, coherent and concerted policies

See this excellent infographic for more.

water and energy infographic


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