Water scarcity is real. Yet most people take potable water for granted. I mean, how many of us dump drinkable water on our lawns, keep the tap running while brushing our teeth, or ignore that dripping faucet? The answer: millions of people do this in the U.S. alone. In most parts of the country, water is cheap and therefore most of us tend to avoid giving this precious resource a second thought. I’m as guilty as the next person. The problem is that it’s a finite resource – sooner or later the planet could literally just dry up.
Luckily, more and more people are getting wise to the harsh truth of water scarcity thanks to the emergence of public service announcements encouraging water conservation; more consumer awareness of, and governmental pressure to replace, aging water infrastructure; and an increased focus on technological innovation within the water utility sector.
For electric utilities, technological innovation in particular could help boost grid reliability. For example, water facilities account for 4% of the country’s electricity consumption, so efforts are being developed to reduce this consumption by building onsite renewable energy sources at these facilities. Doing so will allow each water facility to pull less electricity from the grid, which will theoretically reduce stress on the grid, and in some cases, could lead to excess onsite renewable energy being put back into the grid, thereby further boosting supply.
It’s an interesting angle to be sure – I’ve not previously connected the dots between water scarcity and increased grid resiliency. But if you think about it, it really does make a lot of sense. For more on this topic, check out this article from the EPA about water challenges in the U.S.