Water and Energy

I recently finished up a piece at the day job on the connection between water and energy, and perhaps as a result, everywhere I turn these days I’m seeing stories on the linkage. Today’s example comes from Cynthia Barnett:

Matthew Cohen, a professor in UF’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation, and post-doctoral researcher Jason Evans in the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation analyzed energy and water impacts for four ethanol crops — corn, sugarcane, sweet sorghum and pine — in Florida and Georgia. Their study, published in Global Change Biology, found that all four yielded net energy; meaning they are viable for replacing fossil fuels. But it also concluded that ramping up production enough to meet U.S. Energy Independence and Security Act mandates for renewable fuels by 2022 “would have significant impacts on both land use and water resources.”

To we dry-climate southwesterners, Florida might seem like a what-me-worry water state, with 40 inches of rain (100 cm) in a bad year. But the problem really is all relative. It’s about how you use the water you’ve, and Barnett has documented Florida’s serious water problems.