Report Finds Power Plants Stress Water Resources

Guest Blog | November 14, 2011 | Press Releases

Knoxville, Tenn. — The Energy in a Warming World Initiative, a research collaboration between the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and a team of more than a dozen scientists will release a peer-reviewed report Tuesday, November 15, that found water use by power plants — particularly coal-fired and nuclear ones — is stressing freshwater resources around the country, including in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

The report, “Freshwater use by U.S. power plants: Electricity’s thirst for a precious resource,” revealed that the U.S. Department of Energy’s system to track power plant water usage actually masks water stress in the Southeast. Power companies aren’t reporting their water use accurately and the federal government needs sustained support to ensure it can improve its data collection system.

According to the report, in some cases, water shortages have pinched some water users while the power plants went on drawing water. In other cases, power plants themselves have had to curtail power production, leading to blackouts. Meanwhile, new plants are being proposed without sufficient regard to the added stress. WHO: John Rogers, a lead researcher for the report, senior analyst at UCS;
George Hornberger, scientific advisory committee member for the report, director of the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vanderbilt University;
Kristen Averyt, lead researcher for the report and deputy director of the Western Water Assessment at the University of Colorado Boulder;
Rob Jackson, scientific advisory committee member for the report and director of the Center on Global Environmental Change at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University;
David Merryman, Catawba Riverkeeper. WHAT: Telephone press briefing for release of “Freshwater use by U.S. power plants: Electricity’s thirst for a precious resource.” Q&A session with reporters will take place after opening comments from speakers. WHEN: Tuesday, November 15, 10-11 a.m. EST

WHERE: Call in to 866.814.1915. The name of the call is “Water Use By U.S. Power Plants.” # # # The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading U.S. science-based nonprofit organization working for a healthy environment and a safer world. Founded in 1969, UCS is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and also has offices in Berkeley, Chicago and Washington, D.C. For more information, go to